Moliflor Loisirs - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Moliflor Loisirs

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History of Moliflor Loisirs

Moliflor Loisirs is France's third-largest casino operator and one of the fastest-growing as well. Since the start of the 2000s, Moliflor has more than tripled the number of casinos under its operation, for a total of 21 casinos in 2006, generating annual revenues of EUR 273 million ($320 million). Headquartered in Lyon, Moliflor operates casinos throughout France, but especially in the country's southern coastal areas. Altogether the company's casinos feature more than 1,800 slot machines, as well as traditional French and international gaming tables, including le Jeu de la Boule and "English-style" Roulette, Poker, Blackjack and the like. In addition, most of the group's casinos feature a combination of restaurants, hotel accommodations, and entertainment facilities, including theaters and discotheques, as well as other amenities, such as private beach areas and beach facilities. Moliflor was founded in 1948 and controlled by the founding Moliner-Florensa family until its acquisition by PPM Ventures in 1999. The company was subsequently acquired by Bridgepoint Capital in November 2005, which then sold a minority interest to Loto Quebec in 2006. Moliflor Loisirs is led by CEO Marc Leonard.

The First Fifty Years: 1948 to 1998

Adrien Moliner had already gained experience in the hotel business when, in 1948, he purchased his first casino location, in Canet-en-Roussillon, on the Mediterranean coast near Perpignan, in the south of France. The actual casino was closed at the time of Moliner's purchase of the site and remained so into the mid-1950s. In 1956, however, Moliner received permission to re-launch casino operations. Joined by nephew Claude Florensa, he incorporated a new company to operate the casino, which later became known as Moliflor.

Initially, the Canet casino's gaming facilities remained somewhat limited, and the property was not considered to be a full-fledged casino. This changed in 1965, when Moliflor was granted the right to add roulette tables. With one casino under its belt, Moliflor began eyeing expansion into other locations. The company at first targeted the regional market, staying close to home with the purchase of the Casino de Boulou, also in the western Pyrenées region.

Moliflor remained a two-casino business into the 1970s. The company added its third casino in 1976, buying a controlling stake in the casino in another coastal site, Saint Cyprien. This operation was complemented by a fourth site in the region, in Argèles, acquired in 1980. The Argèles casino was located directly on the beach, and like the company's other casinos, featured its own restaurant in addition to gaming facilities. Also in 1980, Claude Florensa took over as the head of the company.

Florensa reincorporated in 1987, and renamed the company as Moliflor Participation. The new company then received authorization from the French government to install slot machines in the group's casinos for the first time. The addition of slot machines helped popularize the casino market for French consumers, lowering the threshold for entry into gambling. The company quickly began adding slot machines to its casinos: the Canet facility would eventually add some 160 machines to its floor, while the Boulou casino boasted 80 machines. Both the Argèles and Saint Cyprien sites remained more modest, at 32 machines and 49 machines, respectively.

Slot machines soon accounted for the largest share of the company's revenues, driving its growth into the 1990s and enabling it to continue its expansion through acquisition. The next property added by the company came in 1992, when the company acquired a controlling stake in the casino in Lamalou-les-Bains, a thermal spa resort village situated in the Haut Languedoc National Park and located near Beziers.

By the time the company celebrated its 50th anniversary, it had already acquired its sixth casino, in the ski resort area of Ax-les-Thermes. In that year, the company changed its name again, to Moliflor SA and went public with a listing on the Paris stock exchange in July 1998. With the capital raised from the public offering, Molifor returned to its external expansion, acquiring a seventh casino, in Amélie-les-Bains, a village noted for its thermal spring spas. Like many casinos in France, the new casino was a modest affair, featuring only a small gaming room with no slot machines.

By the late 1990s, however, Moliflor was confronted with the rapidly changing French casino landscape, as a small number of groups, led by chief rival Partouche, had launched a widespread consolidation of the market. A major driving force behind this consolidation was the French government's decision to place tight limits on the addition of new slot machines in the country's casinos. As its competitors began buying up the smaller casino groups in the country, Moliflor became a target as well.

In response, the company decided to take itself off the market, allowing the venture capital group PPM Ventures, part of the British-based Prudential group, to take 92 percent of Moliflor. At the same time, PPM acquired an additional casino in Uriage. This casino was then merged into Moliflor and both companies were regrouped under a new company, Moliflor Loisirs. Taking the lead of the new company was managing director Marc Leonard, who had built his own career within one of France's leading hotel and casino groups, Lucien Barriere.

Gambling on Leadership in the New Century

With Leonard in the lead and backed by PPM, Moliflor entered a new growth phase that was to take it to the top ranks of the French casino industry before the middle of the 2000s. Acquisitions formed the core of Moliflor's growth strategy, while the company also invested strongly in expanding and upgrading its portfolio of casinos. As such, the group's Amélie-les-bains casino was expanded in April 2000 with the addition of a new room housing 30 slot machines.

By then, the group had already completed its first new acquisition, taking over the Casino d'Antibes "La Siesta" located on France's exclusive CĂ´te d'Azur. One of the largest single casinos in France--and one of the last independent casinos before its acquisition by Moliflor--the Antibes casino boasted 180 slot machines, as well as a gaming room, restaurant, private beach, and the region's largest open-air discotheque. The acquisition of the Antibes casino raised the group's revenues past the EUR 100 million mark for the first time. The company quickly added two more casinos in 2000, in Luxeuil-les Bains and in Montrond-les-Bains; the latter was among France's 15th largest casinos while the former represented Molifor's first venture in the French northeastern region.

Moliflor added five more casinos in 2001. The first, located at Gerardmer, in the Haute Vosges region, also featured its own 600-seat cinema. The company continued to move north, adding two Normandy locations, at Saint-Pair-sur-mer and at Saint-Aubin-sur-mer. The company filled in its eastern presence with the purchase of the Santenay casino in April; by July, the company had entered the western Atlantic region as well, in Port Crouesty. That casino, built by Molifor, added a 50-machine slot room the following year.

Moliflor acquired new shareholders in 2002, when PPM sold its stake in the company to an investment partnership between the Royal Bank of Scotland and Legal & General Ventures. Nonetheless, the company remained focused on its expansion drive, buying up the Casino d'Etretat, located near Le Havre in the north of France. The company also invested in upgrading its facilities, completing a renovation of its Montrond casino complex.

By the end of 2002, Moliflor had entered new territory, buying up the Bordeaux-based Groupe Etoile. The purchase added sites along the southwestern Atlantic coast, in Saint Paul-les-Dax and in Saint Jean de Luz, as well as a leisure base in Casteljaloux. The purchase of Groupe Etroile added some EUR 20 million to Moliflor's total revenues, which topped EUR 250 million that year. This placed the group in the number four position in the French casino sector in terms of revenues. With 19 casinos now under its control, the company had also claimed the number two position in terms of locations.

At the beginning of 2003, Moliflor added its 20th casino, returning north to acquire the Tréport casino. Yet that year marked a pause in the group's external expansion as it focused on expanding and upgrading its existing properties. The company unveiled its newly renovated Santenay casino in April 2003; by August, the company had received authorization to add nearly 90 new slot machines among its casinos in Uriage, Antibes, Boulou and Port Crouesty. The company also carried out renovations of the Saint Cyprien casino and its original Canet casino, with both completed in September of that year. By the end of 2003, the company had received authorization to add nine new slot machines to its St. Aubin casino, as well. This was followed by the addition of 20 new machines in Santenay at the beginning of 2004. Also in 2004, the company won the bid to construct a new casino in Lans en Vercors, which they expected would be opened in 2008.

Marc Leonard was named group CEO in 2005 as Moliflor found new owners, in the form of Bridgepoint Capital, which took over as the group's majority shareholder that year. By the end of that year, Bridgepoint had sold a minority shareholding in the company to Canada's Loto Quebec, which became the group's second-largest stakeholder with a 38 percent share. The new partnership allowed Moliflor to re-launch its expansion drive, which had been largely put on hold during 2005, with the purchase of its 21st casino, the "Les Pins" casino in Sables d'Olonne. That purchase helped complete Moliflor's geographic presence, adding its first site in the middle western seaboard region of France. With new financial backing, Molifor appeared a sure bet to play among the leaders in the French casino market.

Principal Subsidiaries

Moliflor Loisirs operates casinos in Amélie-les-Bains, Antibes, Argelès, Ax-les-Thermes, Le Boulou, Canet, Etretat, Gérardmer, Lamalou-les-Bains, Luxeuil-les-Bains, Montrond-les-Bains, Port Crouesty, Les Sables d'Olonne, Saint-Aubin sur Mer, Saint-Cyprien, Saint-Jean de Luz, Saint-Pair sur Mer, Saint-Paul-les-Dax, Santenay, Tréport, and Uriage-les-Bains.

Principal Competitors

Groupe Partouche; Groupe Barrière SA; Accor Casinos; Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Étrangers à Monaco; Compagnie Européenne de Casinos; Groupe Tranchant; Groupe Moliflor; Groupe Emeraude SA; Hôtels et Casino de Deauville SA; Société Fermière du Casino Municipal de Cannes.


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