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Eros International Plc and STX Entertainment Complete Merger to Form Eros STX Global Corporation

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DOUGLAS, Isle of Man & BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Eros International PLC (NYSE:EROS) (“Eros International”) and STX Filmworks, Inc. (“STX Entertainment”) have announced today the completion of their merger-of-equals transaction. The newly-combined company will migrate in the coming weeks to trade on the NYSE under the symbol ESXI and will operate under the name Eros STX Global Corporation (“Eros STX”, or “the Company”). The company will continue to be domiciled in the Isle of Man, and headquartered in both Burbank, California, USA and Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

Pursuant to the merger agreement, Eros International issued contingent value rights (“CVRs”) to the former stockholders of STX Entertainment in the merger. The CVRs will be settled in A ordinary shares of Eros STX on a date between 75 days and six months after the effective time of the merger.

Combination Rationale, Strategic Positioning and Financial Profile

  • Combination will drive long-term growth in diversified markets and provide a more consistent and stable revenue profile: Eros STX will benefit from diversified underlying sources of revenue and consumers with a truly global media and consumer entertainment play, building a powerhouse between East and West. Eros STX has a unique capability to present film and episodic libraries and pipeline of original content to a broad and growing global audience through multi-year output deals, strategic alliances and the market leading Eros Now streaming platform. Eros STX is well positioned to create long-term value for shareholders, partners and employees.
  • Well-established positions in the fastest growing and largest global markets: In India, Eros STX will continue to have a leading box office presence and one of the largest and most valuable libraries of Indian language films. In China, the Company will benefit from and expand upon some of the most comprehensive business and creative relationships in the industry. In the United States and the rest of the world, it will utilize its revolutionary, industry-disrupting and cost effective, data-driven production, marketing and distribution system innovations to create the studio system of the future: visionary, nimble, efficient and sustainable.
  • Strong capital structure and significant synergy opportunity enables long term stability and drives growth investment: Eros STX capital structure includes $110 million of incremental equity, with an additional $15 million to be completed within the next 90 days, from new and existing global investors including TPG, Tencent, Hony Capital and Liberty Global. The combined company is expected to generate approximately $50 million in annual run-rate operating synergies.
  • Unique multi-channel distribution model: Multi-channel distribution across pay-TV via Showtime, digital distribution via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Eros Now, India’s premier Subscription Video on Demand (“SVOD”) platform for Indian content. Eros Now’s strategic and distribution partnerships with Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Microsoft, Virgin Media, Roku, Etisalat, NBCUniversal and Google/YouTube combined with STX’s global output and distribution agreements covering 150+ territories ensure that the combined company is well positioned to benefit from strong and growing demand for premium content.

Eros STX’s strong digital footprint, through Eros Now and output deals with Netflix and Amazon, hedges theatrical monetization and further strengthens the company’s positioning as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates the shift in consumer spend towards digital entertainment platforms globally.

Capitalization and Financial Outlook

Eros STX benefits from $110 million of incremental equity, with an additional $15 million to be completed within the next 90 days, from new and existing global investors including TPG, Tencent, Hony Capital and Liberty Global. All of these investors come with a strong track record in media and technology investments, and will partner with Eros STX over the long-term to pursue strategic investments in key growth areas including global distribution and OTT content. In addition to the $125 million equity investment, the company’s liquidity position and balance sheet are further strengthened by a revamped $350 million JP Morgan-led credit facility and a strong credit profile.

On a pro forma basis, as of July 28, 2020, Eros STX had net debt of approximately $254 million with total cash on hand of approximately $144 million. Given the more than $300 million of highly-predictable aggregated future revenue projected to be generated by STX Entertainment alone, combined with an expected $50 million of combination synergies, Eros STX is well positioned to continue to invest in content and pursue growth opportunities around the world while maintaining a healthy capital structure.

Should the global economy and media and entertainment landscape return to a level of normalcy by late 2020, Eros STX expects to achieve global revenue of approximately $1 billion in calendar year 2022, increasing significantly from the approximately $600 million of pro forma revenue in calendar year 2019.

As of closing, Eros STX will have approximately 424 million total A and B ordinary shares outstanding on a fully-diluted basis.

Eros STX will keep its current fiscal year end of March 31st going forwards, and will also be adopting US GAAP accounting standards.

Newly Constituted Board of Directors and Senior Executive Leadership

The Board of Directors of Eros STX will initially comprise of eight members who are highly regarded media, private equity and public company executives. The board members bring a long and outstanding history of leadership and industry expertise and will help guide the company’s long-term growth. The newly constituted Board of Directors will include:

  • Kishore Lulla, Executive Co-Chairman
  • Robert Simonds, Co-Chairman and CEO
  • Rishika Singh, Co-President
  • Shailesh Rao, Independent Director
  • Dhirendra Swarup, Independent Director
  • Nick Stone, Independent Director
  • Dilip Thakkar, Independent Director
  • John Zhao, Hony Capital

Drawing talent from both companies, Eros STX will have a team of industry-leading creative, operational and financial experts, with deep knowledge of key global growth markets and U.S. public company governance experience. In addition to Mr. Lulla and Mr. Simonds, Andrew Warren, formerly STX Entertainment’s Chief Financial Officer, will serve as CFO; Rishika Lulla Singh, currently Chairman of Eros Digital, and Noah Fogelson, formerly STX Entertainment’s EVP of Corporate Strategy and General Counsel, will each serve as Co-Presidents; and Prem Parameswaran, formerly Chief Financial Officer of Eros, will serve as Head of Corporate Strategy. Adam Fogelson will continue to serve as Chairman of STX Motion Pictures Group, while Pradeep Dwivedi will continue to serve as CEO-India.

Strong Digital Growth Opportunity from Eros Now Platform

The Eros Now platform continues to ramp up and grow its paid user base worldwide, supported by one of the largest libraries of Indian movies, along with its un-paralleled market position and brand name. As of March 30, 2020 Eros Now reached 29.3 million paid monthly subscribers and 196.8 million registered users, increases of 56% and 27%, respectively, over the same period last year. Eros Now has a strong slate of films and original series scheduled for release over the coming quarters, and the Company expects this to help drive continued growth in the paying subscriber base in India and around the world.

Favourable structural and demographic tailwinds across India as well as watch-at-home consumption patterns underpin the Eros Now growth trajectory and support the target of reaching over 50 million monthly paying subscribers by 2022. To maximize its reach, Eros Now has established collaborations and partnerships in India and globally with market-leading telecommunications operators, OEMs and digital distribution entities to make available our digital service to global audiences. Our partners include, among others, Apple +, Sony TV, Airtel, Etisalat, Amazon Channels, FlipKart, Visa and many more. Additionally, Eros STX’s future output will further enhance our 12,000+ film library, multiyear strategic deal with NBCU and soon to be launched premium service targeting the English language content consumer. Our ability to adapt to changing tastes and trends, focus on growth in rural India and provide best-in-class payment and optimized content delivery options to our consumers are all central to our business strategy.

Robust Pipeline of Film and Episodic Content

ErosSTX has a robust pipeline of feature length films and episodic content with powerful, well-established positions in the world’s fastest-growth global markets. Select upcoming slate of films and TV shows includes:

Premiering in the US

  • Greenlandwith Gerard Butler
  • Run Rabbit Run with Elisabeth Moss
  • Godmother with Jennifer Lopez
  • Nightwolf with Kevin Hart
  • Muscle with Vin Diesel

Premiering In India

  • Flesh An Eros Now Original Series by Siddharth Anand
  • Metro Park (Season 2) andSmoke (Season 2) Eros Now original series
  • +745 An Eros Now original Series by Sachin Mohite
  • Avataar An Eros Now original Series
  • The Show Must Go On An Eros Now original Series
  • Halahal by Zeishan Qadr
  • Bhumi An Eros Now original Series by Pavan Kripalani
  • Date Gone Wrong 3, Women of Mettle, My Journey and The Investigation (Season 2) as Eros Now Quickies
  • Haseen Dilruba with Taapsee Pannu, Vikrant Massey and Harshvardhan Rane
  • Atrangi Re with Akshay Kumar, Sara Ali Khan and Danush via our Colour Yellow Joint Venture
  • Haathi with Rana Daggubati, Pulkit Samrat and Zoya Hussain
  • Aankhen 2 with Amitabh Bachchan

The Entertainment Media Consumer Shift

Due to unprecedented factors we have seen the industry landscape alter and adapt as consumer and creator habits are shifting. ErosSTX’s combined foresight ensures we are well positioned for this shift as measured by five important criteria:

  • Brand: Eros as a brand is dominant across the South Asian diaspora worldwide with a 40+ year history. Furthermore, the Eros brand is traditionally synonymous with hit films in multiple Indian languages as demonstrated by our 10 year average box-office market share of approx. 32%. The STX brand is synonymous with star driven hit entertainment features as well as a premium original series producer with success’ such as MySpy which is Amazon’s no.1 performing title.
  • Breadth (Distribution) : The Eros Now platform is one of the most widely distributed apps across Asia with a platform agnostic approach. Eros Now is the only south Asian app launched on Apple +, and has several high profile exclusive marketing bundles with YouTube and Walmart’s FlipKart to name a few. Additionally, partnerships with Netflix and Amazon provide a home for future output ensuring the brand’s content leaves no screen unturned.
  • Build (Production) : STX and Eros have unparalled global production capabilities augmented by innovative and rich partnerships with leading producers and platforms. Eros’s recent partnership with Epic Games (producers of Fortnite) to accelerate production efficiencies, and with Microsoft to further develop and create video technology, are prime examples. STX develops and produces content at scale with Amazon, HBO, Netflix, Quibi, etc.
  • Backlist (Library) : A digital library of over 12,000 films, Indian library of over 5,000 films and STX library of recent hits offer multiple monetization opportunities as digital and television consumption increase. The library is primarily used to fuel Eros Now growth as well as form a base for strategic partnerships with Amazon, Apple and Netflix
  • Balance Sheet : Well capitalized with a healthy debt profile with no near-term debt maturities that cannot be addressed

ErosStx is a powerful combination that helps fuel the global ambitions of the combined company. These five pillars, and depth within each, form an integral part of our future strategy to create a strong consumer brand with recurring revenue cycles through our Eros Now platform and multiyear strategic output deals with platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

COVID-19 Impact

Like nearly every other media and entertainment business, Eros STX has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay-at-home orders and the closure of cinemas has resulted in delays for the release of feature films and the halting of new production. Unlike many other media and entertainment businesses, the Company’s efficient overhead structure and ability to dynamically respond to changing circumstances means that it is better positioned to weather the impacts than many competitors. Despite the business challenges arising from the pandemic, Eros STX has seen a substantial increase in both new subscriptions and consumer engagement on the Eros Now platform driven by increased time spent at home as well as fewer out-of-home entertainment options available. Consumers are watching more content on the platform than ever before, an acceleration of growth that will provide strong tailwinds to the combined business for the coming quarters. Further, given Eros STX’s scale and multi-channel distribution model, the Company can continue to strategically diversify content premiere streams including PVOD, digital premiere exclusives while continuing to provide audiences theatrical first star driven cinematic entertainment. This diversity of media platforms will ultimately benefit the long-term group revenue profile and increase profitability given reduced dependence on lower margin theatrical releases with increased exposure to higher margin digital revenues.

About Eros STX Global Corporation

Eros STX Global Corporation, (“Eros STX” or “The Company”) (NYSE:EROS) is a global entertainment company that acquires, co-produces and distributes films, digital content & music across multiple formats such as theatrical, television and OTT digital media streaming to consumers around the world. The company was formed in July 2020 through the merger of two international media and entertainment groups, Eros International Plc and STX Entertainment. Merging the largest Indian OTT player and premiere studio with one of Hollywood’s fastest-growing independent media companies has created an entertainment powerhouse with a presence in over 150 countries. Eros STX delivers star-driven premium feature film and episodic content across a multitude of platforms at the intersection of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing global markets, including US, India, Middle East Asia and China. The Company also owns the rapidly growing OTT platform Eros Now which has rights to over 12,000 films across Hindi and regional languages, and had 196.8 million registered users and 29.3 million paying subscribers as of March 30th, 2020. For further information, please visit Erosplc.com or STXentertainment.com until the company launches its new ErosSTX.com site and logo in September.

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

Information provided in this communication includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and such statements are subject to the safe harbors created thereby. Generally, these forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as “approximately,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “continue,” “could,” “expect,” “future,” “intend,” “may,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “project,” “seek,” “should,” “will” and similar expressions. Those statements include, among other things, the discussions of the Company’s business strategy and expectations concerning its and the Company’s market position, future operations, margins, profitability, liquidity and capital resources, tax assessment orders and future capital expenditures. All such forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those that the Company is expecting, including, without limitation: the Company’s ability to successfully and cost-effectively source film content; the Company’s ability to achieve the desired growth rate of Eros Now, its digital over-the-top (“OTT”) entertainment service; the Company’s ability to maintain or raise sufficient capital; delays, cost overruns, cancellation or abandonment of the completion or release of the Company’s films; the Company’s ability to predict the popularity of its films, or changing consumer tastes; the Company’s ability to maintain existing rights, and to acquire new rights, to film content; the Company’s ability to successfully defend any future class action lawsuits it is a party to in the U.S.; anonymous letters to regulators or business associates or anonymous allegations on social media regarding the Company’s business practices, accounting practices and/or officers and directors; the Company’s dependence on the Indian box office success of its Hindi and high budget Tamil and Telugu films; the Company’s ability to recoup the full amount of box office revenues to which it is entitled due to underreporting of box office receipts by theater operators; the Company’s dependence on its relationships with theater operators and other industry participants to exploit the Company’s film content; the Company’s ability to mitigate risks relating to distribution and collection in international markets; fluctuation in the value of the Indian rupee against foreign currencies; the Company’s ability to compete in the Indian film industry; the Company’s ability to compete with other forms of entertainment; the Company’s ability to combat piracy and to protect its intellectual property; the Company’s ability to maintain an effective system of internal control over financial reporting; contingent liabilities that may materialize, the Company’s exposure to liabilities on account of unfavorable judgments/decisions in relation to legal proceedings involving the Company or its subsidiaries and certain of its directors and officers; the Company’s ability to successfully respond to technological changes; regulatory changes in the Indian film industry and the Company’s ability to respond to them; the Company’s ability to satisfy debt obligations, fund working capital and pay dividends; the monetary and fiscal policies of India and other countries around the world, inflation, deflation, unanticipated turbulence in interest rates, foreign exchange rates, equity prices or other rates or prices; the Company’s ability to address the risks associated with acquisition opportunities; risks that the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and spread of COVID-19, and related public health measures in India and elsewhere, may have material adverse effects on the Company’s business, financial position, results of operations and/or cash flows; challenges, disruptions and costs of closing the Merger and related transactions, integrating the Eros and STX businesses and achieving anticipated synergies, and the risk that such synergies will take longer to realize than expected or may not be realized in whole or in part; the amount of any costs, fees, expenses, impairments and charges related to the Merger and related transactions; uncertainty as to the effects of the consummation of the Merger and related transactions on the market price of the Company’s A ordinary shares and/or the Company’s financial performance; and uncertainty as to the long-term value of the Company’s ordinary shares.

The forward-looking statements contained in this communication are based on historical performance and management’s current plans, estimates and expectations in light of information currently available and are subject to uncertainty and changes in circumstances. There can be no assurance that future developments affecting the Company will be those that it has anticipated. Actual results may differ materially from these expectations due to changes in global, regional or local political, economic, business, competitive, market, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond the Company’s control. Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize or should any of the Company’s assumptions prove to be incorrect, the Company’s actual results may vary in material respects from what the Company may have expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. The Company cautions that you should not place undue reliance on any of its forward-looking statements. Any forward-looking statement made by the Company in this communication speaks only as of the date on which the Company makes it. Factors or events that could cause the Company’s actual results to differ may emerge from time to time, and it is not possible for the Company to predict all of them. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise, except as may be required by applicable securities laws.

Entertainment

Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans

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Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans

Simon Fraser, XB Net: Capturing the entertainment proclivities of racing fans
Image Source: XB Net

Simon fraser, Senior Vice President of International at XB Net, discusses how XB Net is taking the sting out of protracted integration processes for sportsbook operators.

Backed by 1/ST Technology, Fraser walks us through the ways that XB Net is helping bettors to engage in all aspects of horse racing, before explaining how the company plans to use the Breeders’ Cup to broaden North American racing’s international reach.

SBC Americas: For those that might not know, can you tell us a little bit about XB Net? What’s the story behind the company and which markets are you targeting?

SF: XB Net provides a comprehensive North American racing service to international gaming operators across both fixed-odds and pool betting. The service covers the popular codes of thoroughbred, quarter-horse, harness and greyhound racing. Our key markets currently include the UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand.

We manage the rights and distribute this premium content (data, odds, live broadcast and video streaming) on behalf of a broad progressive portfolio of global partners, allowing them to deploy ground-breaking technologies to attract and educate new audiences.

We’re lucky enough to be backed by a true powerhouse in 1/ST Group, whose consumer-facing brand forms a world-class technology, entertainment, and real estate development company with thoroughbred horse racing wagering at its heart – anchored by best-in-breed horse racing operations at the company’s premier racetracks, including (to name but a few): Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park – home of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series; Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course – site of the legendary Preakness Stakes.

And now the stateside stage is set for this year’s flagship finale at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships (5-6 November) in Del Mar. It all represents 1/ST’s continued movement towards redefining thoroughbred horse racing for a modern audience, and optimizing the ecosystem that drives it.

As a result, we can draw from an unrivalled network of over 60 North American tracks which account for over 75% of U.S. racing, opening the door to many of the planet’s most prestigious horse races.

SBC Americas: How is XB Net ensuring that it stands out from the competition?

SF: That aforementioned deep well of resources and racetracks isn’t a bad place to start from when you’re trying to positively delineate XB Net from the competition. And as a basic premise, we are planning to work with our partners across the globe to increase the awareness of North American horse racing, both as an exciting sport and as a high-quality betting medium.

By harnessing low-latency feeds from more than 2,500 meetings, showcasing over 25,000 races per year, North American racing is steadily accruing more global viewers and bettors, especially after a spell in which the pandemic has badly disrupted, if not decimated, so many events on the typical sporting calendar. While many of those sports have since recovered from the treatment table, North American racing – which mostly continued unaffected during the outbreak – has largely retained its enlarged audience share.

In the UK, some of that success and enduring retention can be attributed to the popular nightly pictures on Sky Sports Racing, whose friendly, informative GFN was instructive in “home-schooling” many new viewers to North American racing during the lockdowns.

Accordingly, with many heads having been turned by North American racing, the sport is now pulling up a comfortable seat in their wider entertainment choices. Particularly considering the nature of its rapid-cycling events, which conveniently fill the recreational gaps for drop-in audiences who might like a bet. Providing the right content at the right time remains so important, wherever you stick your pin on the international map.

XB Net’s steady stream of short-form premium content captures eyeballs and improves digital hang-time, allowing our partners to engage untapped audiences, deliver 24/7 horse racing, and also guard against any unforeseen impediments to the global sporting calendar.

SBC Americas: Tell us about your EasyGate™ products. How are they eliminating the complexity of North American racing?

SF: EasyGate is a breakthrough multitote technology and software architecture, providing structured race content, betting pathways and secure track video streams to our partners. Long story short, EasyGate navigates an intuitive path through the complexity of North American racing (from streaming formats to different data sources and their multivariate components), and also simplifies access to other content from other countries.

We give operators everything they need to succeed and take the sting out of protracted integration processes – just plug in and go, whatever the channel.

SBC Americas: Tote betting, and arguably horse racing in general, across the UK has had a tricky few years. How is XB Net making sure that racing is still the ‘product of choice’ for your partners?

SF: Our ability to present North American racing as a fixed-odds product allows us to take advantage of the UK market where Tote betting will always be a marginal betting product. Elsewhere, innovation around in-running betting can really allow horse racing to catch-up on any lost ground and reconsolidate its market position.

The complex variables of horse racing have meant this sport, for so long the retention backbone of many operators, hadn’t previously been able to seize the opportunities that other sports have secured with in-play. After all, nowadays, betting products must smoothly transition from pre-play to in-play, which is why operators must employ the latest trading tools and reactive in-play odds to attract modern-day audiences.

XB Net has now successfully trialed a ground-breaking feed that couples the Starting Price with the best of automated trading via Total Performance Data’s (TPD) astonishing array of consequential in-running analytics, including stride length, stride frequency and sectional timings enabled by saddle-cloth GPS tracking. These variables are accordingly harvested in-play by TPD’s machine-learning trading tools whose algorithms train themselves on race pace for precise pricing that delivers a distinct step-change in live fixed-odds wagering.

SBC Americas: How does your company help bolster revenue and support sometimes struggling traditional racetracks?

SF: I’d take issue with the word struggling. On the US side of the pond, the prize money at most tracks is very positive and betting turnover is up significantly. As a core technology in the wider arsenal of 1/ST and 1/ST Technology, XB Net is part of a broader company wide goal to sustain a successful business model while ensuring all stakeholders who work in the industry are cared for and supported.

That means delivering a fresh and holistic racing experience for the fans which captures the entertainment proclivities of every age group at the racetrack, especially the younger generation that is coming through. We are embracing this challenge and opportunity (sometimes two sides of the same coin!) at every touchpoint we have with our customers.

Just take our recent efforts with Historical Horse Racing (HHR) and how these terminals can provide workarounds for their local racetracks, increasing revenues where slots aren’t legal. As a result, HHR games can bolster revenues at traditional racetracks through direct new gaming revenue for operators who are directly tied to horse racing.

We also pay back a percentage to each host racetrack for every single wager placed, using each respective track’s historical races. This is akin to the simulcast live horse racing host-fee structures, in addition to paying horse racing industry stakeholders for the requisite historical race information data (e.g. Equibase).

At the tracks, our teams are working to modernize the horse racing experience, leveraging technology to bring an on-demand, digital experience to our customers. Ultimately, we’re targeting a growing audience looking for quick-fire action and engaging gameplay experiences driven by end-user thinking and the best interfaces that support that. Providing opportunities for consumers to engage in all aspects of horse racing – from live racetrack visits to simulcast viewing, online wagering and mobile – is the best way to grow our sport in a modern world.

SBC Americas: XB Net holds the international distribution rights for the upcoming Breeders’ Cup. In what ways is this agreement helping to broaden North American racing’s international reach?

SF: Self-evidently, our three-year contract extension with the Breeders’ Cup was a welcome endorsement of our team’s efforts over the past few years. The agreement comprises worldwide broadcast and video-streaming distribution rights from the Breeders’ Cup whose 2021 renewal, consisting of 14 Championship races and over $31 million in prize money and awards, is fast-approaching (5-6 November) at Del Mar racetrack in California next month. Del Mar is one of my favourite venues in all of sport, and its most common epithet of “where the surf meets the turf” tells you what sets it apart.

When the standard-bearer for elite North American racing selects you to further broaden the international reach of its world-class festival, you must be doing something right, and I’m pleased to say that sports fans and bettors around the globe can look forward to even more coverage of the World Championships.

You’re even seeing a suite of domestic host broadcasters (for example Sky Sports Racing and ITV in the UK) broadcasting all 14 races this year, which is ideal for growing the sport. Of course, the increasingly international make-up of these fields, bringing the best horses together from all around the world, only adds to the allure and transcendent appeal of the Breeders’ Cup for global audiences.

SBC Americas: And how will you help optimise and increase the returns to North American racing following what has undoubtedly been a challenging economic period?

SF: For us, it’s all about expanding markets and coverage, coupled with enhancements to our cutting-edge technologies. We’ve already launched in India, while we also have new Tote and fixed-odds roll-outs set for Asia and Africa.

Regarding the race tracks themselves, the more we can add to the service, the better-value our proposition will inherently become through sheer economies of scale. Again, we can return these cost advantages to the tracks. That even applies in Australia, where we’ve recently agreed a deal to add thoroughbred racing from the principal racing state of Victoria to our service which runs off the same infrastructure. We’re thrilled to be able to add more world-class contests for our partners, with the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival already capturing players’ imaginations.

As for what’s under the hood, we’re always refining and fine-tuning, despite having some of the most durable and trusted tech around. For instance, we actually just classified our pari-mutuel totalisator and fixed-odds wagering platform as a “legacy” product.

Instead, we’re replacing it with a next-gen wagering platform that will play a key role as 1/ST Technology continues to deliver on our vision to build upon the strengths of our current gambling platform while also extending its capabilities (e.g. quickly adding new bet types) – increasing speed to market, enhanced support of our customers’ needs, and unlocking the ability to efficiently onboard new consumers via verticals such as sports betting, esports, and other emerging opportunities. In short, it will allow us to react to the market with peerless agility.

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Entertainment

Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 14, 2021 | Diversions

The Majesty of Rock set to perform at First Friday Seminole

SEMINOLE — The Majesty of Rock, one of Florida’s most prestigious bands, will salute the music of Journey and Styx at First Friday Seminole, on Friday, Nov. 5, 6 to 9 p.m., on the main street in front of Studio Movie Grill at Seminole City Center, 11201 Park Blvd. N., Seminole.

Sponsored by Seminole City Center and The Rotary Club of Seminole Lake, this will be the final First Friday Seminole of 2021. The event will feature a variety of Seminole City Center merchants, food, prizes, and games, as well as a special concert by The Majesty of Rock. Attendees are asked to bring their own chairs. Coolers are not allowed. Vendors other than Seminole City Center tenants are not permitted.

The Majesty of Rock features the voice of John D’Agostino, coupled with the exceptional musical talents of four equally sophisticated and experienced musicians. That combination soon propelled the group to become one of the premier Journey reverence bands of our time. The band strives to re-create the exact sounds and nuances of Journey. Their passion for authenticity and attention to detail go a long way toward ensuring that the audience feels like they’re at a real Journey concert.

While the band has enjoyed performing the music of Journey, front man John D’Agostino also loves another American super group: Styx. Turns out the rest of the band are huge Styx fans, too. So, they began adding some of Styx’s best tunes to their already expansive repertoire of Journey material.

CWP to stage ‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’






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The cast and crew of the Carrollwood Players Theatre production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” include, front row, from left, Kaedin Cammareri, stage manager; Jason Goetluck as Spike; and Pauline Lara as Nina; and, back row, Se’a Ryan as Sonia; Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra; Kenneth Grace as Vanya; Kari Velguth as Masha; and Alicia Spiegel, director.




TAMPA — Carrollwood Players Theatre will present its production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang, running Oct. 15-30, at the theater, 4333 Gunn Highway, Tampa.

Tickets are $24. Tickets now on sale at tinyurl.com/vanyacwp. Performances will be Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m.; and Sundays, 2 p.m. For information, call 813-265-4000 or visit carrollwoodplayers.org.

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” won the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play.

Middle-aged siblings Vanya and Sonia share a home, where they bicker and complain about the circumstances of their lives. When Marsha, their movie-star sister, swoops in with her new boy toy, Spike, old resentments flare up, eventually leading to threats and chaos. Contributing to the excitement are a sassy maid who can predict the future, and a lovely young aspiring actress who can’t. Audiences will discover why Durang is lauded as the master of mining the absurdities of human folly.

Presented with the support of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County and the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, this production will be directed by Alicia Spiegel.

“‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ is not exactly a well-known show, and the title can be a bit hard to remember … but audiences won’t soon forget the hilarious storyline,” Spiegel said. “I think everyone will relate to the family/relationship dynamics in this modern comedy laced with emotional baggage and heartfelt moments.”

The cast features Kenneth Grace as Vanya, Se’a Ryan as Sonia, Kari Velguth as Marsha, Jason Goetluck as Spike, Pauline Lara as Nina, and Stephanie Russell Krebs as Cassandra.

“Our cast has been perfecting their characters for almost a year a half since we were supposed to put this show on in April 2020 before the world changed,” Spiegel continued. “Luckily, CWP has decided to put it on this season and we are very ready to entertain audiences. They will be treated to sibling rivalry, a sexy young man barely wearing anything, a clairvoyant housekeeper whose predictions can’t be trusted, and a sweet girl next door who doesn’t know what she’s in for.”

“Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service Inc., New York.

Carrollwood Players offers a limited number of free tickets to every performance for low-income families receiving Florida SNAP benefits. For more information, visit carrollwoodplayers.org/theatreforall/.

Syd Entel Galleries to present Borowski glass exhibition

SAFETY HARBOR — An opening reception for a new glass exhibition by the world-famous Glass Studio Borowski will take place Friday, Nov. 12, 4 to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, Nov. 13, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Syd Entel Galleries and Susan Benjamin Glass Etc., 247 Main St., Safety Harbor.

The Borowski’s “Odd Birds Walk of Fame,” a tribute to 20th century celebrities in glass, will run through Nov. 27. The show is open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call 727-725-1808 or email linda@sydentelgalleries.com.

Borowski is one of the leading modern glass studios worldwide. Stani Jan Borowski transforms the iconic Fat Gonzo light object into the wildly successful Odd Bird Series. The Odd Bird series has continued to grow into a collection of 22 famous celebrities from the world of art, music, media and science. These hand-blown glass creations are a work of art, unique and distinctive. All are wildly imaginative with recognizable characteristics of the many famous characters, such as Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Elton John, Micheal Jackson, and Marilyn Monroe.

In addition to the Odd Bird Series, the gallery will have on hand a huge selection of work from the Borowski art objects, studio line and outdoor collection.

Cool Art Shop presents artisan holiday ornament tree

DUNEDIN — The Professional Association of Visual Artists will celebrate the upcoming holiday season with the annual Holiday Ornament Tree featuring handcrafted artisan ornaments, holiday décor, small gift items, and holiday greeting cards by various PAVA fine art and fine craft artists.

The tree is on display at The Cool Art Shop, 1240 County Road 1, Dunedin, in the Independence Plaza Square, through Thursday, Dec. 23. An open house reception will take place Friday, Oct. 15, 6 to 8 p.m., at the shop.

In addition to the Holiday Ornament Tree, The Cool Art Shop also displays and sells PAVA’s artists’ artwork which is comprised of an impressive collection of both visual and functional art for sale in both 2D and 3D mediums including painting, ceramics, photography, mixed media, drawing, pastels, sculpture, and jewelry in all price points. The artwork is rotated on a 6- to 8-week basis to keep the artwork fresh and new. Shop hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PAVA is a nonprofit organization run by volunteer artists to serve local artisans and support the arts community in the Tampa Bay area. It provides exhibition, education and grant opportunities for its members. Additionally, PAVA supports local art centers, and is a local sponsor of the Pinellas County Regional National Scholastic Art Awards where scholarships are provided to students for art instruction. Visit www.pava-artists.org.

Mat Kearney concert canceled

CLEARWATER — The Mat Kearney concert scheduled at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 3, has been canceled.

Ticket holders will be contacted about refunds. For more information, visit www.RuthEckerdHall.com.

Creative Clay virtual exhibit opens

ST. PETERSBURG — Creative Clay presents “Celebrating Disability Employment Awareness,” October’s virtual exhibit, featuring artwork by Creative Clay’s member artists who actively create, market and sell their work. The exhitib opened Oct. 9.

This new exhibit coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. According to the United States Department of Labor, the theme this year is “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” which reflects the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities have full access to employment and community involvement during the national recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Creative Clay promotes inclusion by empowering its artists to create art that is exhibited in its Good Folk Gallery, exhibited throughout the community and online, and market themselves as working artists. Many of Creative Clay’s member artists engage in training for potential employment. Creative Clay’s artists receive commission on all works sold.

NDEAM is held each October to commemorate the many and varied contributions of people with disabilities to America’s workplaces and economy. Employers, community organizations, state and local governments, advocacy groups and schools participate in celebrating NDEAM through events and activities centered around the theme of America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion.

Creative Clay’s Virtual Gallery also includes the artwork of many of Creative Clay’s member artists. All artwork is for sale through our online gallery at creativeclay.org.

St. Pete Arts Alliance awards to help young artists

ST. PETERSBURG — Awards received from the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Program allowed 14 talented Pinellas County students to attend an arts camp this summer.

These students aspire to be musicians, actors, dancers, writers or visual artists. Creative Clay, American Stage, St. Pete MAD and others nominated creative, aspiring at-risk and/or low income students to attend their arts programs for the summer while parents of these students filled out applications showing artistic and financial need.

St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures programs are dedicated to helping students nurture their creative interests and develop their expressive talent by providing funding to eligible students and connecting them to local after school arts programs or summer arts camps.

“It’s not just about the art for these students,” said Tracy Kennard, associate director of the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. “It’s about gaining confidence, understanding collaboration and feeling compassionate towards others and how the simple act of learning new artistic traits, can teach skills that are the building blocks of a promising future in any industry.”

The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s Funding Futures Student Award program is designed to identify and encourage talented at-risk and/or low income emerging artists, ages 10-17 in Pinellas County seeking St. Petersburg programs in the categories of dance, music, jazz, voice, theater, digital arts, photography, cinematic arts, literary or visual arts. Funding Futures is open to all talented artists regardless of ethnic, social or economic background, or ability/disability.

Major funding sources from Tampa Bay Times Employee Matching Gifts, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, and the Jacarlene Family Foundation have helped build the Funding Futures Grant Program for the past six years. For information on supporting this program, visit stpeteartsalliance.org/donate.

Livingston Taylor, Tom Chapin concert rescheduled

CLEARWATER — Due to a scheduling conflict, Livingston Taylor and Tom Chapin have rescheduled their concert at the Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre.

Tickets purchased for the concert on Friday, April 1, will be honored on the new date, Sunday, April 3, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $29, are on sale now. Visit www.RuthEckerdHall.com.

Sinbad show postponed

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced stand-up comedian Sinbad has postponed his upcoming performance scheduled for Saturday, April 16, at 8 p.m.

Tickets will be honored on the new date to be announced soon. For more information, visit www.RuthEckerdHall.com.

Steep Canyon Rangers reschedule Capitol Theatre show

CLEARWATER — The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre recently announced that the Steep Canyon Rangers concert originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13, at 8 p.m., has been rescheduled.

Tickets will be honored on the new date Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at 8 p.m. Tickets, starting at $25, are on sale now. Visit www.RuthEckerdHall.com.

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions

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Window on Arts & Entertainment: Oct. 7, 2021 | Diversions

Dunedin Wines the Blues music lineup set

DUNEDIN — The Downtown Dunedin Merchants Association recently announced the lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event, set for Saturday, Nov. 13, noon to 11 p.m., on Main Street in downtown Dunedin.

The 30th annual Dunedin Wines the Blues will offer attendees an opportunity to walk around the downtown area businesses, shop, eat, and browse a selection of street vendors. This year’s festival will present three stages of nonstop blues, with live music performances beginning at 2 p.m.

VIP tickets are on sale and include unlimited drinks and food as well as access to the VIP lounge area with couches, tables, stage views, big screens and VIP-only desserts and signature drinks. The VIP tent is open from 5 to 11 p.m. VIP tickets cost $125. For tickets, visit www.winestheblues.com.

Following is the music lineup for this year’s Dunedin Wines the Blues event:

Main Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Selwyn Birchwood
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Beth Mckee Funky Time Band
  • 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. — Johnny Rawls Band
  • 7:15 to 8:45 p.m. — Damon Fowler
  • 9:15 to 10:45 p.m. — Vanessa Collier

West Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Ellie Lee Band
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — Steve Arvey
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Alex Lopez
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Sarasota Slim

East SBS Stage

  • 2 to 3:15 p.m. — Trey Wanvig
  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. — T Bone Hamilton
  • 5:30 to 7 p.m. — Brian Leneschmidt Band
  • 7:30 to 9 p.m. — Dottie Kelly Band

Performers and show times are subject to change without notice. For information, visit www.winestheblues.com.

Author releases new book, announces book signings

Reedy Press recently announced the release of “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” by Joshua Ginsberg.

You might think you know Tampa Bay, maybe even the weird, wonderful, and obscure parts of it, but get ready to take your exploring in an innovative and interactive new direction. With “Tampa Bay Scavenger,” you’ll embark on a gamified experience in the Tampa Bay area, complete with over three hundred clues to solve spanning seven counties.

From museums to natural wonders, historical markers, bars and restaurants, sports stadiums, and public artworks, you’re bound to discover something new and unexpected. Be the first one to solve all the riddles, take the whole family out on an adventure, or just find a creative excursion for a few hours as you unlock the hidden face of the Tampa Bay area.

Ginsberg — an author and local explorer — brings years of research and a poet’s sensibility to each of his carefully outlined quests. Follow along with the website www.tbscavenger.com and the #TBScavenger Facebook group for a truly interactive experience. It just might be the most elaborate and ambitious scavenger hunt that Tampa Bay has ever seen.

“Tampa Bay Scavenger” is available wherever books are sold.

Ginsberg will host several book signing events in the coming weeks. Book signings are free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase. The author will take part in the following book signings:

  • Saturday, Oct. 9, 2 to 5 p.m., at Cueni Brewing Company, 945 Huntley Ave., Dunedin
  • Saturday, Oct. 23, 5 to 8 p.m., at Bastet Brewing, 1951 E. Adamo Drive, Tampa
  • Saturday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Clearwater Historical Society, 610 S. Fort Harrison Ave., Clearwater

Studio 1212 to launch new exhibition

DUNEDIN — An opening reception for “What a Relief” will take place Sunday, Oct. 17, noon to 3 p.m., at Studio 1212 Art Gallery, 234 Monroe St., Dunedin.

Participating artists will be on hand. Light refreshments will be served. The exhibit will run through Nov. 28. Studio 1212 is open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit the gallery’s online store at studio1212.org.

Gulfport venue to present Amazing Acro-cats show

GULFPORT — The Amazing Acro-cats will perform four shows, running Friday through Sunday, Oct. 22-24, at the Catherine A. Hickman Theatre, 5501 27th Ave. S., Gulfport.

Performance times will be Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 3 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Visit www.rockcatsrescue.org or www.brownpapertickets.com/event/5233235.

The Amazing Acro-cats — featuring Tuna and the Rock Cats — are a troupe of rescued house cats. This one-of-a-kind, two-hour long “purrformance” features talented felines roll on balls, ride skateboards, jump through hoops, and more.

The finale is the only all-cat band in the entire world: Tuna and the Rock Cats. The current band lineup features St. Clawed on guitar, Bowie on drums, Nue on keyboard, Ahi on woodblocks, Albacore on cowbell, Roux on trumpet, and Oz on saxophone. There is even a chicken named Cluck Norris rockin’ the tambourine.

Featured on the Netflix docu-series “Cat People,” Tuna and the Rock Cats have also appeared alongside Stephen Colbert on his late night show, as well as PBS and Animal Planet.

Murals coming to two Pinellas Trail tunnels

LARGO — Creative Pinellas and Pinellas County Public Works have partnered to bring four new murals by Pinellas County artists to the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail tunnels at U.S. 19 in Tarpon Springs and Alternate U.S. 19 in Palm Harbor.

The artists’ mural designs for each tunnel face have been inspired by public surveys and meetings that were part of the artist selection process that occurred this summer and revealed a community that enjoys the sunshine and outdoor life, and appreciates the scenic landscape filled with Florida native plants and wildlife. The locations for the murals were selected as part of the Pinellas County Public Works Graffiti Abatement Art Program.

“Creative Pinellas is proud to be part of this multi-mural project on the Pinellas Trail,” said Barbara St. Clair, CEO of Creative Pinellas. “It is an opportunity to not only assist in Pinellas County’s effort to combat graffiti, it also brings talented Pinellas County artists in to create pieces that will engage the trail users in a new way. The new murals will add to the identity of the Pinellas Trail as a destination location in Pinellas County.”

The Palm Harbor location, just north of Wall Springs Park, will feature Taylor Smith’s design “Wetland Herons” that includes two great blue herons with an organic color scheme meant to highlight the beauty of Florida’s coastal wetlands on the south tunnel face, while the north tunnel face design by Yhali Ilan, “Island People,” celebrates the coastal lifestyle in North Pinellas through the use of vibrant plant life, people enjoying the beaches, and water related activities.

The Tarpon Springs location, just north of Live Oak Street, will include the design “Sun Tribute” created by Daniel Barojas (a.k.a. R5, Rope5) on the west tunnel face. The design is a stylized representation of the sun, an essential part of Florida lifestyle. Ricardo Delgado’s (Reda3sb) design “Birds and Flowers” also incorporates the sun, setting into the sea, vibrant flowers and tropical birds, to celebrate nature and Florida life on the east tunnel face.

The Pinellas Trail Mural program is a partnership between Creative Pinellas and the County with goals of defeating graffiti, building excitement and interest, and fostering community beautification projects. Since the beginning of the program, local artists have completed two murals in Palm Harbor and one along the Pinellas Trail overpass in Largo.

“Extending the graffiti abatement program to the Pinellas Trail exemplifies the County’s strategic plan goals to invest in our transportation infrastructure, maximize partner relationships and support a vibrant community,” said Tom Washburn, Pinellas County Public Works Transportation Division Director. “We are pleased to partner with Creative Pinellas and the Florida Department of Transportation in this effort to improve the quality of life for our residents and visitors.”

Artists will be working over the coming weeks and through mid-October. Both locations will remain accessible for trail users while the artists work.

For information about the project, visit creativepinellas.org/opportunity/pinellas-trail-artworks/.

Cracker Country to presents annual Tall Tales of Old Florida

TAMPA — Tall Tales of Old Florida will be presented Saturday, Oct. 23, beginning at 6:45 p.m., at Cracker Country, a living history museum found at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. Hwy. 301 N., Tampa.

Each walking tour will last 60 minutes. This event is recommended for ages 6 and older. Admission is $14 per person and includes a snack. An advance purchase price of $12 per person is available through Oct. 17. Tickets are sold in time blocks. Tickets and more information available at www.crackercountry.org.

Attendees will explore Tampa’s 19th century living history museum by night. Along the way, they will meet storytellers who will spin wild yarns about a few of Florida’s unexplained oddities. A little scary, a little funny and always family friendly, the Tall Tales tour is a Florida history adventure by lantern light.

Cracker Country is a living history museum that represents aspects of home life, commerce and transportation as it was in many rural Florida communities at the end of the 19th century. During the Tall Tales of Old Florida tour, “tellers” will share uniquely Florida stories about skunk apes, misbehaving trains, cow hunting giants and other legendary creatures. Guests will also enjoy a magic lantern show, featuring a turn-of-the-20th-century projection technology that led to the birth of the film industry.

Guests are invited to come early and enjoy Victorian games and activities before their tour begins. Afterward, have a complimentary snack and do some holiday shopping in the General Store.

Chic Décor & Artisan Market set

SAFETY HARBOR — The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will take place Sunday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at 411 Main Street, Safety Harbor.

The Chic Décor & Artisan Market is returning to its home location in Safety Harbor.

This unique hybrid market highlights some of the best home décor artists, vintage pickers, and indie artisans in the Tampa Bay area. The Fall Chic Décor & Artisan Market will feature over 120 local décor artisans, vintage treasures, and furniture featuring assorted styles like coastal chic, farmhouse, shabby chic, cottage glam, and industrial. There also will be food vendors and live entertainment.

Parking and admission are free.

L.O.L. Surprise! Live show rescheduled

CLEARWATER — L.O.L. Surprise! Live scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Ruth Eckerd Hall, has been rescheduled.

L.O.L. Surprise! fans in Clearwater will be able to rock out in real life when the all-new hologram concert tour crisscrosses the United States and makes a stop at Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday, May 5, at 6 p.m. Tickets purchased for the Oct. 20 performance will be honored on the new date. Tickets, starting at $28.75, are on sale now. Visit www.RuthEckerdHall.com.

St. Pete Arts Alliance to present Second Saturday ArtWalk

ST. PETERSBURG — The Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District, Warehouse Arts District, Uptown Arts District and downtown Waterfront District will united to celebrate “ARTober” for the St. Petersburg Second Saturday ArtWalk, set for Saturday, Oct. 9, 5 to 9 p.m.

ArtWalk is opening night as some 40 galleries and studios premiere new works, with artists and demos on-site. It’s impossible to take in the entire ArtWalk in one night. Attendees should plan to drive, walk, or take the trolleys to visit the districts of their choice — or utilize the free Downtown Looper, which will run every 15 minutes.

To download the map and list of participants, visit www.stpeteartsalliance.org.

‘Legendz of the Streetz’ show rescheduled

TAMPA — Amalie Arena recently announced that the “Legendz of the Streetz” Tour has been rescheduled.

Originally set for Sunday, Oct. 17, the show will now be presented Friday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. All tickets bought will be honored for the rescheduled date. The tour will feature hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Jeezy, Gucci Mane and 2 Chainz. Tickets, starting at $50, are on sale now. Visit Ticketmaster.com.

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