Crown OKs new hotel in Melbourne
Crown Melbourne, the PBL subsidiary that owns and operates the Crown Entertainment Complex, has announced the addition of a third hotel. When completed, the as yet unnamed hotel will be the largest in Australia.
The new build will join the existing, business-oriented Crown Promenade and the luxury market Crown Towers hotels. The Crown Towers will receive an upgrade and the Crown Casino will see a refurbishment of its main gaming floor, it was also announced.
The A$300 million (US$266.2 million) hotel will add 658 rooms to the Complex, bringing the total of rooms available there to more than 1,600. The hotel will target the international leisure traveler, with an added focus on conferences and conventions.
Construction is expected to begin in October, with the hotel becoming operational in May 2010.
The upgrade to the Crown Towers Hotel is estimated at A$65 million. The casino main floor refurbishment, which will also incorporate new venues for live entertainment and restaurants, will cost an additional A$100 million.
Taiwan to wait on casinos
Ho Mei-yueh, chairwoman of Taiwan’s Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD), has announced that the country will not be welcoming a casino industry in the near term, “due to the absence of relevant legal framework and a lack of public consensus.”
The Chairwoman revealed the information in response to a question from opposition legislator Chiang Yi-hsiung, of the Kuomintang (KMT) party, during a legislative committee meeting.
Ho commented that other countries integrate the casino industry into general leisure development and do not promote it separately. She said that the gambling industry requires a sound legal environment and a special institution for its oversight.
Relevant government agencies will be discussing how to minimize any negative effects of a casino industry at some point in the future.
Ho did say that the government will first launch a sports lottery and then seek public input on the casino issue, after people become more familiar with foreign sporting events.
Tabcorp may lose NSW casino monopoly
Tabcorp is in talks with the state government of New South Wales that might see the Australian company lose its right to be the sole casino operator locally.
In exchange for giving up that right, Tabcorp reportedly would receive a lower tax rate on gaming revenue. The state treasury department wants to raise the gaming tax from 24.5 percent to 30 percent.
The 12-year-old license was set to expire this month, but the state has agreed to a second month of extension while negotiations continue.
The Walker-hill Casino in the Sheraton Hotel in Seoul, South Korea
South Korea looks to compete
The city government of Seoul wants to move the South Korean capital’s three existing casinos to new locations that could handle larger structures and more business. The three casinos are at present housed within the Sheraton Walkerhill Grande Hotel, the Millennium Seoul Hilton, and the Oakwood Premier Coex Center.
The casinos are only open to foreigners. As other countries in the region are expanding or introducing casino gaming, Seoul officials are worried they will lose tourists to competing cities.
Complicating the picture and perhaps spurring the move is the fact that new casino licenses can only be granted here if there is a 600,000 person increase in foreign visitors in a given year.
Private equity in Macau
Europe-based private equity firm Permira is increasing its planned acquisition of Galaxy Entertainment Group to a full 20 percent of the company.
On the heels of the announcement it was purchasing 452 million shares from Galaxy shareholder K.Wah International Holdings (KWIH) for HK$3.8 billion , the diverse Permira said it would acquire an additional 323 million shares from Galaxy for HK$2.7 billion. Total value of the two deals is HK$6.5 billion, about US$840 million.
Permira serves as advisor to the 19 Permira Funds, which have collectively raised an amount equal to €22 billion since 1985. The funds have invested in over 180 transactions in over 15 different countries, in businesses as diverse as home pizza delivery to luxury yacht building to satellite communications.
In the casino and gaming sector, Permira is one of three equal partners in the Gala Group of the U.K. Gala is the third largest U.K. casino operator, as well as the leader in bingo clubs and third again in betting offices.
Permira has a reputation for hands-on involvement, establishing working relationships between its funds and the management teams of the companies in which they invest. The company is expected to establish itself in Hong Kong in the first half of 2008. Martin Clarke and Guido Paolo Gamucci, two of the partners in Permira, will join the board of Galaxy as non-executive directors.
Galaxy for its part will issue another 150 million new shares to sell to institutional investors at around HK$8.60 per share. When the dust clears, the chairman of Galaxy and KWIH, Dr. Che-woo Lui, and his family will hold 52 percent of Galaxy.
Said Lui of the new partner, “Permira can help us develop our retail, tourism businesses. We can share our experience.”