Alchemy’s bingo halls in trouble

A bingo operator backed by UK private equity investor Alchemy Partners is in talks with its creditors. Alchemy met Barclays on March 19 to discuss options for the struggling bingo firm which has seen its revenues suffer due to the smoking ban, tax changes and gambling laws. Alchemy will decide whether to invest additional equity into the Manchester-based company or hand it over to the bank.

Alchemy acquired Buckingham Bingo in a £101m (US$200m) buyout in December 2005 and has equity topping £60m vested in the business. In the financial year to April 2007, the company generated profits of £3.5m on sales of £37m.

Gala Coral, the UK’s largest bingo hall operator, is also in the hands of private equity groups – Candover, Cinven and Permira.