We created French casino owner and operator Moliflor Loisirs in June 1999 with the acquisition and take-private of an operator of seven casinos in France, and the simultaneous purchase of Uriage, a casino near Grenoble.
We had aborted two attempts to buy casino groups in 1997 and 1998 due to uncertainty relating to future taxation, by which time we had become known in the market as having a keen interest in the French gaming industry. Consequently, Philippe Gazagne, former co-president of Groupe Barrière, approached Silverfleet while he was putting together a management team.
We saw a strong consolidation opportunity in the French gaming industry, where more than half of the sites at that time were still owned by private individuals and families. With our platform company, we backed an ambitious buy and build strategy to create one of France’s leading casino groups, applying professional management methods to formerly owner-managed businesses.
Our team acquired six casinos through five acquisitions and built a seventh in Port Crouesty. These acquisitions took the total number of casinos owned and operated by the group from eight in June 1999 to 15 in April 2001.
In this time, we increased our original investment of €25m by more than three times while the profit at EBITDA level, starting at €10m, grew five-fold. This was in part thanks to the positive environment of the French gaming industry, which was experiencing a double-digit growth rate. More importantly, it was down to systematically implementing professional management methods in the acquired sites.
We helped grow a team of just two people into a complete management team within six months, and supported them in establishing the monitoring and control systems necessary for a group of its size.
In mid-2001, we sought an exit and in March 2002 sold the company in a secondary buyout for €402m. It generated an IRR of 52% and a money multiple of 2.4x.
growth in profit at EBITDA level