Dreamworld CEO to staff: we are not for sale

As Ardent Leisure announces that they are exploring rezoning of land at the Coomera home of Dreamworld, Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson reassures staff that the rumours of the park's sale aren't true.

Image: Dreamworld. Dreamworld CEO Craig Davidson (right) joined by Mick Doohan (left) for the launch of virtual reality on Mick Doohan's Motocoaster in 2016.

While stories surfaced recently that China's Songcheng group were in discussions to purchase the struggling theme park, CEO Craig Davidson suggested that it's not true.

In a memo to staff released by the Gold Coast Bulletin, the theme park's chief quashed the rumours:

No, we are not for sale [...] you will be the first to know if that changes.

Craig Davidson, Dreamworld CEO

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The assurance to Dreamworld staff pre-empted today's announcement from parent company Ardent Leisure that states they are exploring the rezoning of land at the Coomera site that would allow further, non-theme park development.

As part of this review Ardent has appointed a town planner to assess the feasibility of rezoning parts of the precinct. Ardent has, and will continue to, engage with third party developers to discuss potential development opportunities and timing for any redevelopment within the precinct.

Ardent Leisure ASX Release, 24 May 2017

The revelation today comes after Ardent Leisure chief financial officer Richard Johnson – who will leave the company in July after 13 years in the role – told shareholders at their February 2017 half year presentation that the value of Dreamworld could increase with different zoning.

At the moment the zoning is parks and entertainment. Obviously a different zoning – as residential or commercial – could increase that value quite significantly.

But at the moment though, the highest and best use is certainly as a theme park.

Richard Johnson, Ardent Leisure CFO, February 23 2017

Ardent Leisure owns a significant amount of undevelped land to the north of Dreamworld in close proximity to the Coomera Westfield currently under construction on Foxwell Road.

In today's ASX announcement however, Ardent Leisure have reiterated their commitment to the ongoing development and recovery of Dreamworld as one of the Gold Coast's premier tourist attractions:

"Notwithstanding the review of the Master Plan, Ardent will continue to invest in Dreamworld to facilitate its recovery and ensure it remains one of the Gold Coast’s key tourist attractions."

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