Serco scraps sale of leisure arm
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Serco scraps sale of leisure arm

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Serco has ditched plans to offload its leisure business, with the services giant reluctant to dispose of another profitable arm amid profit warnings and the recent sale of its lucrative business processing outsourcing (BPO) division.

Serco Leisure – which manages around 60 UK locations including Bisham Abbey and Lilleshall National Sports Centres, plus the National Water Sports Centre – had been expected to be sold this summer, with two UK buyers initially understood to have been in contention. However, Health Club Management recently revealed that the sale had stalled and it now appears that CEO Rupert Soames has decided against selling off both Serco’s environmental services and leisure businesses.

The company last week issued a profit warning, predicting that underlying trading profit for 2016 will be about £50m, compared with analysts’ forecasts of £69m. The profit warning caused the company’s shares to plunge 13 per cent and overall they have lost a third of their value this year.

The sale of the business processing outsourcing (BPO) division to Blackstone in September sliced £20m from Serco’s 2016 profit outlook and the loss of the lucrative leisure and environmental services arms would have done further damage.

“Our leisure and environmental services businesses add real value to our wider work with UK local government,” said Liz Benison, CEO of Serco’s UK & Europe, Local & Regional Government division.

“In light of their strong operational and financial performance, it makes sense to retain them within our existing portfolio. I’m pleased that our decision ends a period of uncertainty for both our people and customers, whom I’d like to thank for their ongoing support over the past year.”

Although likely to prop up the company’s profits and bring clarity for staff, the decision to retain the environmental services and leisure arms had little impact on the market, with the Serco share price down 0.56 per cent in early trading this morning (15 December).

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Serco has ditched plans to offload its leisure business, with the services giant reluctant to dispose of another profitable arm amid profit warnings and the recent sale of its lucrative business processing outsourcing (BPO) division.
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