Casino developer and operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd says it will “participate in any probity review process and cooperate with any inquiry” that is required in relation to its investment in Australian casino firm Crown Resorts Ltd.
Melco Resorts “respects Australia’s regulatory framework,” a company spokesperson said on Friday in an emailed statement to GGRAsia.
The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority announced on Thursday that it was launching an investigation to probe the “change in state of affairs” of Crown Resorts, including the US$1.2-billion bid from Melco Resorts to acquire a 19.99-percent stake in the Australian casino firm.
Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured in a file photo) is chairman and chief executive of Melco Resorts, and of its parent company, Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd. Mr Lawrence Ho is also the controlling shareholder in both companies.
Crown Resorts runs a gaming resort in Melbourne, Victoria; one in Perth, Western Australia; and is developing a third at Barangaroo in Sydney, New South Wales. The Australian gaming firm said in a Thursday statement that it would “fully cooperate” with the probe launched by the New South Wales authorities.
As part of granting a casino licence to Crown Resorts in Sydney, the New South Wales gaming regulator had included a provision to prevent “any new business activities or transactions of a material nature between Stanley Hung Sun Ho or a Stanley Ho associate and Crown, any of Crown’s officers, directors or employees or any Crown subsidiary”.
Mr Stanley Ho, the father of Mr Lawrence Ho, is the founder of SJM Holdings Ltd, one of Macau’s current six casino concessionaires.
A list of dozens of companies and people described as associates of Mr Stanley Ho who were banned from doing business with Crown Resorts was made available to the New South Wales parliament on Thursday. That list included a company called Lanceford Co Ltd, which listed as its directors several relatives of Mr Stanley Ho, including – as of June – Mr Lawrence Ho.
The list of banned companies and persons associated with Mr Stanley Ho however does not include Mr Lawrence Ho, or companies associated with the Melco group.
In Friday’s statement, the Melco group spokesperson said that Melco International and Melco Resorts “have entirely separate board of directors and management teams” from that of Mr Stanley Ho’s businesses.
The person added: “Dr Stanley Ho does not hold any board seat in Melco International Development Ltd, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd or any other group companies, has no involvement in their business operations and does not exercise any influence on any financial and operating policies or other matters of these companies.”
According to The Guardian newspaper, Mr Lawrence Ho was still a director of Lanceford Co at the time Melco Resorts completed the acquisition of an initial 10-percent stake in Crown Resorts in early June. Melco Resorts is to acquire an additional 9.99-percent stake in Crown Resorts by the end of September, according to company filings.
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