Genting Waits for Echo OK

The Genting Group may be nearing completion of a plan to acquire a larger stake of Echo Entertainment’s Star casino (l.). The company currently owns 6.6 percent of the Sydney property. It needs the government OK’s to buy more.

Decision expected in July

The Genting Group, controlled by Malaysian billionaire KT Lim, may be close to reaching a deal to buy more of Echo Entertainment’s Star casino in Sydney.

According to the Australia Financial Review, the New South Wales government must approve the acquisition, which would essentially void a standing restriction on ownership stakes. In 2012, Lim first applied to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to increase its stake above the legislated 10 percent cap for any one shareholder; Genting wants to acquire up to 25 percent of the Star.

The Sydney casino will face big competition in 2019, with the opening of Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo casino complex. Crown, owned by Aussie billionaire James Packer, also is Echo’s rival for a Brisbane casino license. Packer once held a 10 percent stake in Echo, but sold it in May 2013.

As the company awaits the ruling, Echo CEO Matt Bekier said the partnership makes sense. “Genting is highly successful. They have one of the two Singapore casinos, they’re building the next big casino in Las Vegas as we speak and they have a number of very impressive operations around the world. They certainly have huge capacity and capability to bring to the party.”

A decision is expected in July.