TALLINN - Neckman Group, which last week acquired 67 percent of the troubled Saku Arena, said the arena should return to a profitable property in 2006.
An extraordinary meeting of Saku Arena shareholders on Oct. 17 approved the sale to the new owners. Control over the property will go to Neckman Group, which is owned by Estonian businessmen Aivar Riisalu and Toonart Raask.
In the same meeting shareholders elected a new supervisory board and decided to make a targeted share issue of 11.6 million kroons (740,000 euros) to Neckman Group, which is part of Havel Grupp owned by Raask.
Neckman Group agreed to pay 11.6 million kroons into bossting the share capital of the operator of Saku Arena, which will give then 33.24 percent of the shares.
Following the investment the company will sign contracts to acquire the holdings in Saku Arena belonging to Lemminkinen Eesti, the Estonian Basketball Federation and the Estonian Olympic Committee.
Following the deals Neckmann will own 66.9 percent of the arena.
The new owners said that the company would remain owned by the Estonian capital, but there may be changes in shareholders.
The last to agree to the deal was Uhispank, one of the largest creditors of the arena.
Sake Arena is currently obliged to pay around 1 million kroons a month to Hansabank and Uhispank in loan repayments.
Riisalu, who is a shareholder in Tallinna Keraamikatehas, said that the complex had less than 10 million kroons in short debt, mainly obligations to banks.
Riisalu is also involved in property development and operates a ski resort in southern Estonia. He is a well-known pop artist and a member of the Meie Mees pop group.
Raask currently owns the Hotel Metropol in Tallinn.
Both Riisalu and Raask said that Saku Arena could continue its current activities and had good potential. Riisalu, who has also worked as a concert promoter, said that he already had ambitious plans for the arena.
Members of the new supervisory board will be Margus Allikmaa, who represents the city, Tonu Seil from the Ministry of Culture, Cardo Remmel, chief executive officer of Saku Brewery as well as three members from Neckman Group - Aivar Riisalu, Ruve Raask and Eve Raabis.
The construction of Saku Arena cost 210 million kroons.