The Canadian giant is looking for a way to bring in more money from its lucrative lion business, and the acquisition of a lion-share price might be the best way to do it, according to executives.
The company said Thursday that it’s finalizing a deal to buy an 80 per cent stake in the company that makes lion cubs, the most lucrative business in the world.
It has already acquired the lion business from a previous owner for a reported $2.2-billion.
That’s a bargain for the lion-owners, who have been struggling for years to compete with Chinese producers for lion cub sales.
But the lion’s share price has soared in recent years, with its value now valued at $2-million or more.
“We’re very happy with the transaction,” said David Rolfe, the president and CEO of LionWorld.
“We’re going to be able to focus on growth, and our lions will have a long-term future.”
The company announced the deal in the fall of 2016.
It had been expected to close in the spring of 2017, but it was delayed until at least 2020.
Its deal with LionsWorld will include a $1.8-billion, 20-year deal to own and operate lion farms and safari parks, with an option to buy a minority stake in any future lion holdings.
Rolfe said the company plans to spend about $1-billion over the next five years on the lion farm, with about $300-million going to keep it running and $500-million for other investments.
He said the lion farms are “probably one of the most expensive operations in the industry” and it’s an ideal time to acquire a lion as there are only four lion farms in Canada, while only three of the world’s five largest zoos are operating.
Roland Dauphin, president of Lionworld, said the acquisition is not a new idea.
“There’s a lot of excitement around the lion, the business model of lion, and there are also some challenges in the marketplace, but we are very excited about this opportunity.”
Dauphinaire said the deal would also help boost the company’s reputation, since many in the U.S. are concerned about the impact of the lion on the environment and wildlife.
LionWorld currently has four lion-farm farms operating, and Daupe said it plans to expand those.”
They’re really special animals.”
LionWorld currently has four lion-farm farms operating, and Daupe said it plans to expand those.
It said it’s currently developing plans to open a second lion farm in Africa, in Tanzania.