Craig Hutchison’s Sports Entertainment cashes in on sports teams

Craig Hutchison’s Sports Entertainment Group has taken another small step towards paying off its $28.7 million debt facility before its looming deadline, by selling off a minority share in its sporting teams business, which includes the Perth Wildcats and new Melbourne Mavericks netball team.

Corporate filings published late on Wednesday reveal the sports media business has raised $1.5 million in exchange for a minority share in its sports teams’ division, with the funds put directly towards repaying its financier, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Craig Hutchison at Sports Entertainment’s annual general meeting in November.
Craig Hutchison at Sports Entertainment’s annual general meeting in November.Credit: Joe Armao

The company said it was looking to raise further funds through the sale of shares in its sporting teams business.

“SEG is seeking to raise further funds for a share in its sports teams’ business, unlocking the strategic value created through its ownership of four professional basketball teams and one professional netball team,” the filing said.

Both Hutchison and Sports Entertainment Group were contacted for more details of the sale, but did not respond in time for publishing.

Hutchison is the ASX-listed company’s second-largest shareholder, as well as its CEO, managing director and leading on-air talent. Alongside the company’s sporting assets – which include the Wildcats, Mavericks, WNBL team Bendigo Spirit and NZNBL teams Otago Nuggets and Southern Hoiho – it also owns digital and radio assets (Sports Entertainment Network) and a television production company.

SEG’s sporting assets include the NBL’s Perth Wildcats.
SEG’s sporting assets include the NBL’s Perth Wildcats. Credit: Getty Images

Hutchison and company chair Craig Coleman told shareholders in late November that deals were in the works to bring down SEG’s debt facility.

On the same day, the company announced the sale of its New Zealand digital and audio business to TAB NZ for $3.7 million. SEG retained ownership of the two basketball teams based in New Zealand.

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SEG has faced heightened pressure after reporting a $9.3 million loss in FY23, with its deadline for the $28.7 million approaching in August.

The company’s auditors issued a warning in November over SEG’s ability to survive should it not find a cash injection. A director’s note in its annual report, released in late October, said the business’s status as a going concern was a “material uncertainty” after it breached bank covenants relating to its loan.

The new filings show SEG has $6.3 million available for future operating activities, with the company still in negotiations over an extension of its repayment terms. It also reported a net operating cash inflow of $2.6 million in the quarter ending December 31.

SEG purchased the eighth Super Netball Licence in 2023, meaning the newly created Mavericks will compete in the 2024 competition. The licence went to market after AFL giant Collingwood, the nation’s largest sports club, announced it would withdraw its team from the Super Netball competition at the end of the 2023 season after being deemed unsustainable.

Nine Entertainment, the owner of this masthead, owns a 3 per cent stake in SEG via 3AW.

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