Hutchy’s sale of Perth Wildcats secures future of SEG including SEN radio network

Perth Wildcats

Initial investment of $8.5m turned into $40m in three years, SEN ratings climb

The board of the Craig Hutchison-controlled Sports Entertainment Group has announced the sale of the NBL team Perth Wildcats.

Earlier this year the Perth Wildcats owner revealed it had sold 4% of the business which helped the business during a credit squeeze.

Hutchison acquired a 95% share in the Perth Wildcats for $8.5 million in 2021 from long-time owner Jack Bendat, who died seven months later at the age of 96. Bendat was a former long-time partner in business with Kerry Stokes.


Craig Hutchison

Who is new Perth Wildcats owner?

The confirmation of the sale of the Perth NBA team comes after an SEG ASX announcement on May 30. Back then Hutchy’s company reported it had received a non-binding offer from West Australian cybersecurity entrepreneur Mark Arena. That offer was for a 90% share for $40m.

That offer has now turned into a deal as per this ASX announcement from SEG:

SEG has signed a binding contract for a staged sale of a 90% interest in Perth Wildcats over two years at a $40m enterprise valuation which occurs as follows:

• $21m for 52.5% by no later than 30 October 2024
• a put and call option for $15m for the further 37.5% by no later than 30 June 2026
• a put and call option for the final 10% with scope to potentially increase based on trailing financial performance to be settled after 30 June 2028.

SEG added the completion of Stage 1 of MTACI’s acquisition is conditional on some group restructuring being completed.

In the 2023-24 NBL season, the Perth Wildcats exited the playoffs after making the semi-finals where they lost to the eventual NBL champions JackJumpers 2-1 in the best-of-three series.

New Perth Wildcats owner Mark Arena. (Main image: Perth Wildcats)

Hutchy finalised the deal from New York

For the past two weeks SEG chief executive officer Hutchy has been working remotely and taking some leave as he visits New York. During the trip he attended the NBA draft and also started the early celebration of his impending 50th birthday.

Listen to Hutchy talk about his New York trip on the latest Sounding Board podcast.

NBL team values escalate

Six weeks ago the NBL reported on significant growth in a number of key areas in NBL season 24 when compared to the previous season:

A 26% increase in broadcast numbers, 118% increase in web and app views, and 26% increase in media exposure.

The League also reported on increasing team values:

The value of clubs has skyrocketed with the NBL becoming the fastest growing sports organisation in Australia and New Zealand, and MTACI’s[Wildcats] offer comes after owner of popular honey and skincare brand ‘Manuka Doctor’ Matthew Pringle acquired a three per cent stake in the New Zealand Breakers.

Earlier this year NBL owner Larry Kestelman sold a 10 per cent stake in Melbourne United for $4 million, which has valued the NBL24 runner-up at $40 million.

JackJumpers owner Kestelman also recently told The Australian talks surrounding the impending sale of the recently crowned NBL champion Tasmania JackJumpers remain ongoing at a valuation of more than $30 million.

Sale solves SEG debt drama and supplies working capital

Earlier this year Mediaweek reported that SEG revealed in its first half FY24 results it booked a loss of $1.5m after tax. The company reported the figure included a $783,000 one-off charge relating to acquisitions and restructuring.

Revenue for the six months was up 8% to $63m. Expenses climbed from $58.5m to $63m.

At that time SEN reported current borrowings of $28m with bank debt of $27m. It reported it had reached an agreement with its lender Commonwealth Bank.

Back then there was commentary that the combined value of all of SEG’s team licences could be worth $40m. The sale of the Wildcats has blown that valuation out of the water.

SEG continues to control Melbourne Mavericks (netball – the most recent acquisition), Bendigo Spirit (WNBL), Otago Nuggets (NZNBL) and Southern Hoiho (NZ Tauihi Basketball Aotearoa).

See also: Future of SEN: Hutchy’s debt deadline, CFO quits, NZ sale, teams valued at $40m

Melbourne SEN breakfast with Garry and Tim

SEN radio network secure as ratings climb

The SEN radio network’s flagship station, Melbourne’s SEN 1116am, just this week is celebrating another record ratings result. Its breakfast line-up achieved the highest breakfast ratings in the history of the station.

Breakfast with Garry Lyon and Tim Watson (Tuesday – Thursday), Kane Cornes and Nathan Buckley (Monday), and Kane Cornes and David King (Friday) achieved the highest breakfast share with a 5.2% share among All People 10+.

Sam Thompson, group radio director of Sports Entertainment Network, commented: “We are thrilled to see SEN 1116am achieve record ratings with our breakfast line-up. The 5.2% share in the breakfast slot is a testament to the compelling content delivered by our talented team of Garry Lyon, Tim Watson, Kane Cornes, Nathan Buckley, and David King.

“With Friday night the most prized and highly competitive football landscape, the strong and winning performance of AFL Nation is a credit to SEN’s chief caller in Gerard Whateley and the entire AFL Nation Team.”

The ratings also climbed significantly in GfK Survey 4 at SEN Sydney and SENQ in Brisbane.

See also: Radio Ratings, GfK Survey 4, 2024

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