Wentworth pre-tax losses double as interest on loans mounts

Losses have more than doubled at the prestigious Wentworth golf course as the cost of the loans its controversial Chinese owners took out to buy the club weighed on profits.

Pre-tax losses for 2016 hit £5.5m compared to £2.2m for the nine months to Dec 31 2015, as the interest payable on its borrowings jumped by roughly half to £4.3m.

Reignwood, a Chinese conglomerate owned by Thai billionaire Chanchai Ruayrungruang, bought the world famous club in 2014 from restaurateur Richard Caring for £135m.

It has tried to cut the number of members to make the site more exclusive, but that plan, alongside a proposal for a one-off £100,000 fee to remain a member, was dropped following a backlash from those including celebrity chat show host and long-term member Michael Parkinson.

However, fees have since risen. In April, the Surrey-based course changed its membership model from a semi-private club to “an invitation-only, family-orientated, fully private members’ club based on a debenture model”, according to its website.

Wentworth’s owners said the strategy “to sell a limited number of new full and golf memberships in order to preserve the lower roundage and course accessibility” remained in place. They also said that the move would coincide with plans to invest an initial £20m in the site by the end of next year in a bid to ensure it “becomes the world’s finest private golf and country club”.

The course continues to host some of golf’s most prominent meetings and celebrity-studded events.

These include the BMW PGA Championship Celebrity Pro-Am, which this year featured former Manchester United legends Ryan Giggs and Peter Schmeichel, along with the singer ­Ronan Keating and the actor Damian Lewis.

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