Entain to Skip Paying Dividends in Favor of Business Expansion

Entain to Skip Paying Dividends in Favor of Business Expansion

Entain is coming off a successful 2021 that saw core earnings reach more than $1 billion. However, the company will use its success to fuel expansion, foregoing dividends for a second consecutive year.

Entain
The lobby of one of Entain’s offices. The gaming company continues to achieve greater financial results, but won’t pay dividends to investors. (Image: Entain)

Entain’s latest financial health report shows that its earnings for 2021 topped off at $1.18 billion, a 4.6% year-on-year increase. This bested analysts’ predictions by about $3 million.

That’s a good sign for the company, although it won’t show its shareholders any additional appreciation. Acquisitions take precedence over dividends in 2022.

Entain to Continue Global Expansion

Entain didn’t give its shareholders dividends in 2021, asserting that the COVID-19 pandemic gave it little leeway on extra spending. The year proved stronger than anyone imagined, but there’s still no room for dividends.

The company’s chief financial officer, Rob Wood, explains that the company prefers to maintain a strong balance sheet and greater flexibility to explore more acquisitions. Despite a tight 2021, the Ladbrokes and Coral owner went on a shopping spree. It has purchased seven new assets in the last 14 months.

That’s not enough, though, and the company wants more. Its goal is to triple the size of the company, which it will do by seeking out new markets and adding new options, such as esports and sports betting.

As we start 2022, we see retail heading towards pre-COVID levels and online performing in line with expectations against tough prior year comparables,” explains Entain in a statement.

Wood added that dividends aren’t completely off the table. At some point in the future, the company plans on bringing them back. When, however, is up to the board.

Entain to Pay Back UK Taxpayers

As did most countries, the UK offered a scheme during the pandemic to give commercial companies some additional financial support. Entain was among the recipients of the country’s Job Retention Scheme, excitedly taking $136 million over two years.

However, once reports started surfacing about the amount of money some companies received, even while profits soared, the backlash was swift. Entain was caught in the middle as it tried to figure a way out that could make both sides happy.

It has come up with a solution, although it likely won’t appeal to everyone. Entain has announced that it will keep the money it received in 2020 and return what it received in 2021.

Not surprisingly, the figure it’s keeping is the larger of the two. In 2020, it received £44 million ($58.63 million). Last year, as it recorded its 4.6% increase in business, it accepted £57.5 million ($76.6 million).

Entain was forced to close a number of its land-based operations during the pandemic, but its online activity increased by 12%. This helped offset the losses from the land-based segment. It asserts that the furlough money helped it pay employee salaries and that it is now “pleased to be in a position to repay” the funds.

Entain, as well as gaming companies everywhere, can expect to see changes in regulations linked to government hand-outs. Labour MP Carolyn Harris, chair of the UK’s Gambling Related Harm All Party Parliamentary Group, calls Entain’s decision to not repay the full amount “shameful.”

Harris accuses the company of taking money from taxpayers, as well. The attention that has been placed on the economic assistance programs, even as companies report skyrocketing profits, will inarguably lead to reforms of the programs.

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