Casino operator Genting Malaysia Bhd says it has concluded the acquisition of a 38.3-percent stake in loss-making United States-based casino operator Empire Resorts Inc. The US$128.6-million deal – announced in August – is part of a proposed operation to take Empire Resorts private.
Empire Resorts owns and operates Resorts World Catskills, a casino complex in upstate New York, approximately 90 miles (144 kilometres) from New York City. It opened in February 2018 and has a 332 all-suite hotel, 1,600 slot machines and over 150 live table games, according to company information.
The firm also owns and operates Monticello Raceway, a horse racing facility in Monticello, upstate New York.
Genting Malaysia said on Tuesday it had acquired 13.2 million units of Empire Resorts’ common stock – held by Kien Huat Realty III Ltd – at US$9.74 per share. The acquisition was made via subsidiary Genting (USA) Ltd.
As of August 18, Kien Huat Realty III – the family trust of Lim Kok Thay, a businessman who is the controlling shareholder of the Genting group, a Malaysia-based casino and plantations conglomerate – held approximately 86 percent of the voting power of Empire Resorts’ capital stock, according to a filing by the American firm.
Under the operation announced in August, affiliates of Kien Huat Realty III and Genting Malaysia additionally plan to acquire the outstanding shares held by Empire Resorts’ minority shareholders, for US$9.74 a share. The deal would lead to the privatisation of Nasdaq-listed Empire Resorts via a joint venture between Genting Malaysia and Kien Huat Realty III.
In October it was reported that a minor shareholder in Empire Resorts was suing the company, claiming that group’s stock had been undervalued under the terms of the privatisation bid. Genting Malaysia Bhd has said the lawsuit is “without merit”.
Empire Resorts has been loss making for several years. The company posted a net loss of nearly US$138.8 million for the financial year ended December 31, 2018.
Genting Malaysia has defended its decision to invest in Empire Resorts, saying it “deemed it a worthwhile investment based on numerous factors”.
The company said in a filing in August that the deal would place the Malaysia-based firm “in a position to more deeply access the New York market and provide both Genting Malaysia and Empire Resorts the opportunity to compete more effectively in northeastern U.S. region’s current competitive gaming landscape.”
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