Genting Hong Kong, subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd, has been granted permission by the New South Wales (NSW) state gaming regulator to boost its stake in Echo Entertainment from 6.6pc to 23pc. Brisbane-based Echo operates one casino in Sydney, two casinos in Brisbane and was recently approved to develop a casino at Queen’s Wharf.

jupiters-casino- bacThe NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority considered the application for three years before granting approval, said the Asian company. Genting still requires approval from Queensland to increase its stake and has said it has not made its final investment decision. But owning almost a quarter of the company could be the grounds for a full takeover move.

In early 2012, Genting acquired its initially shareholding in the company and then applied in June 2012 to the NSW government to lift its stake beyond the mandated 10pc cap. But it wasn’t until last Friday – 1165 days later – when the Asian company received approval. A few hours later, Genting responded that it is yet to decide whether it will now increase its stake.

The government-run Authority acknowledged the delay, splitting the blame between Genting initially taking a long time to provide documents, followed by its rapid expansion into new jurisdictions where its “had little background knowledge.” Sources close to the matter expect required approval in Queensland to be granted within the next two weeks.

Echo’s largest shareholder, Colonial First State Global Asset Management, said it was difficult to gauge the attention of Genting due to the three-year delay. “Things have obviously changed a lot at Echo since 2012,” remarked Marcus Fanning, head of equities at Colonial. “Packer is gone; they have turned around The Star, invested in growth and they’ve won the Queensland Wharf tender.”

Source: Innovative Gaming