The winning bid for a casino resort licence at Queen’s Wharf in downtown Brisbane, Australia, is unlikely to be announced before the second quarter next year, report several media sources in the country, quoting a senior politician in the state of Queensland.
One reason is the time it will take to conduct the necessary probity checks into the bids, said Jeff Seeney, deputy premier and state development minister. Additionally, the result is unlikely to be announced before the state election expected by the end of March.
Two of the leading contenders for Queen’s Wharf are consortia involving respectively Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd and market rival Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. Both of the groupings have Chinese partners.
Echo Entertainment in June told the Australian Securities Exchange it had signed a binding memorandum of understanding with Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd for its bid. The latter privately held firm was founded by Cheng Yu Tung. Chow Tai Fook Enterprises is also reported to be interested in pursuing a casino scheme in South Korea and one in Vietnam.
Hong Kong billionaire Mr Cheng is a long-standing investor in Macau casino investor SJM Holdings Ltd’s parent company Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA. Both the latter firms were founded by Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
In July Crown Resorts – already a joint venture investor in the Macau and Philippines casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd – said it was teaming up for its Brisbane bid with a subsidiary of mainland China’s state-owned property developer Greenland Holding Group Co Ltd.
In November it emerged that the authorities in another Australian state – New South Wales – had imposed a condition on a new casino licence for Crown Resorts in Sydney preventing the firm from having “any new business activities or transactions of a material nature” with Stanley Ho or “a Stanley Ho associate”.
At the end of 2013 Queensland – Australia’s most indebted state – invited expressions of interest for the redevelopment of Queen’s Wharf – a former commercial district of Brisbane, the state capital. The site comes complete with 700 metres (0.43 miles) of river frontage.
Bidding for the site is likely to run into many tens of millions of Australian dollars, plus development costs.
The Echo design includes an arc-shaped building (pictured in an artist’s rendering) with a sky deck, restaurants and bars. The Crown plan includes three hotels and a large rooftop garden.
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