Durban, KwaZulu-Natal: A brand-new chapter was written in the history of Cape horseracing on Monday, 24 April 2023, with the approval by the Competition Tribunal of Hollywood Sportsbook Holdings (Pty) Ltd’s acquisition of Kenilworth Racing (Pty) Ltd.
The approval is a sequel to agreements concluded in a R330 million deal in July 2022, at a time when Kenilworth Racing was experiencing severe liquidity and cash flow constraints, and effectively facing the prospect of ceasing operations at an enormous cost to jobs, with collateral reputational damage to South African racing.
Hollywoodbets is now the proud owner of Cape horseracing, and in addition to the initial loan funding of R64 million, will now, immediately, be injecting R200 million into a number of capital projects to uplift and improve the facilities. In a show of good faith for all stakeholders, and a vote of confidence in the future of the sport, Cape Racing’s crown jewel, Hollywoodbets Kenilworth Racecourse, has been ringfenced.
South Africa’s leading betting operator has declared both the passion and financial capacity to ensure the long-term viability and health of racing in the Western Cape for the years and decades ahead.
Hollywoodbets’ ownership will ensure that thousands of jobs in and around the horseracing industry are maintained and secured. Hollywoodbets holds a Broad- based Black Economic Empowerment Level 3 status.
Hollywood Chief Executive, Suren Rampersadh said that this was a significant shift in Hollywoodbets’ commitment to the horseracing industry. “The transition from our safe space of sponsorship to the responsibility and accountability of ownership is somewhat daunting, and we are fully committed to playing this role.
“But we are not in this alone. We have an incredible relationship with Greg Bortz, who has admirably and selflessly steered the Cape Racing ship during the pre- implementation phase of this transaction. We are delighted that Greg will continue to
chair the Board and also become our equity partner. Perhaps, the most rewarding aspect of all will be the restoration of confidence in the future of an industry that has been living in the doldrums for some time. We will be taking our responsibilities very seriously.”
Greg Bortz of GMB Investments (Pty) Ltd has been a key player in the transaction and provided R130 million of liquidity to Kenilworth Racing in the form of a R50 million working capital facility and attended to the repayment of the approximately R80 million of Kenilworth Racing debt at the time of the signing of the agreements.
Bortz, who has acted as Executive Chairman of Kenilworth Racing, has proven to be a livewire and a gamechanger of stellar proportions and his energy and presence in the hallways of power looks assured.
GMB are likely to convert their loans to equity, in terms of an option written into the original transaction.
“I am delighted with the Competition Tribunal’s final approval of the Hollywoodbets / Kenilworth transaction. This is a massive boost not only for the future of horseracing in the Cape, but for the industry nationwide. Now that I know the Tribunal has approved this transaction, I fully intend to exercise my option and convert my loan to equity. I look forward to partnering with Hollywoodbets and will continue working tirelessly with our respective teams to accelerate the exceptional momentum we have built at Cape Racing over recent months. Onward and upward!” added a thrilled Bortz.
The impact in just nine months on Cape Racing of innovation, restructuring and adjustments to the racing programme, has delivered the most successful Summer Season in years, with field sizes and betting turnovers showing encouraging upturns.
Hollywoodbets and Bortz are looking forward to an even brighter future.
- Images for illustration only by Candiese Lenferna. Hollywoodbets Kenilworth grandstand on
L’Ormarins King’s Plate Day, Saturday 7th January 2023.