Councillors are being asked to reconsider new terms for a loan made to the i360. A report prepared for the next Policy and Resources (P&R) committee on 7 July 2022 details proposals that aim to get the council’s loan repaid as quickly as possible while giving the business a sustainable future.
Proposals were brought to the last P&R committee in May where members asked for more information before making their decision.
The proposed restructure means that the council would take nearly all profits that the i360 makes in a cash sweep. This means that every six months the council takes all cash within the business, leaving only an operational cash float.
The report sets out minimum payments that would see the loans repaid over 25 years. But there is potential for them to be paid sooner if the attraction performs well. External advisers have suggested this is the best way for the loan to be repaid quickly.
Currently, the directors of the i360 do not take any money out of the business for fees or expenses. They have invested over £10m in the business in the form of loan notes. Many were closely involved in the creation and operation of the London Eye and have been involved in the i360 project since its inception. Between them they have a wide range of skills and experience which they make freely available to the business due to the investment of their own money in the attraction.
The proposed terms include rewarding the i360 for over-performing the targets. This would offer an incentive to the owners to continue to invest their time and knowledge in managing the business and helping to repay the council quicker.
A council spokesperson says: “Restructuring the principal loan is considered to represent the best way to protect the public purse. It helps to keep the i360 operating as a viable concern that continues to contribute to the local visitor economy.
“The i360 has driven regeneration of a part of the seafront that had started to appear run down. It acted as a catalyst for the public realm works either side of the attraction, including new events spaces, creative retail outlets and new attractions like the Upside Down House. Some of those public realm works were directly funded by the i360.
“The board has set out a business plan which outlines how the attraction will continue to draw visitors along to that part of the seafront, including the introduction of thrill seeking activities such as sky walks.
“The i360 has already become an iconic part of the city’s seafront and we look forward to it welcoming many more visitors”.