Gaming entrepreneur James Packer has had a meeting with the premier of the Australian state of New South Wales over concerns that the planning process for his AUD2-billion (US$1.4 billion) Barangaroo casino resort in Sydney is dragging, reported the Daily Telegraph newspaper in Sydney.
Mr Packer is the largest shareholder in Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd, the developer of the Barangaroo casino project (pictured in an artist’s rendering).
The news outlet said that delays to some ground preparation work could cause the opening of the project to be delayed past its permitted operational start of late 2019, “to 2020 or beyond”.
It added the potential slip in the timetable was partly due to a year-long dispute between Crown’s construction manager for the scheme, Lend Lease Group LLC, and the Barangaroo Delivery Authority, the body charged with coordinating urban regeneration in the waterside district of Sydney.
The newspaper quoted a spokesman for state premier Mike Baird saying he was “always keen to meet with stakeholders who are investing in the future of Sydney and New South Wales.”
In July 2014 it was announced that Crown had been given a so-called ‘Restricted Gaming Licence’ by the state government, allowing the firm to operate a VIP casino at its planned six-star Crown Sydney hotel at Barangaroo. It was told at the time it would be allowed to start operating the casino some time after November 15, 2019.
In May this year, Crown confirmed it had signed an agreement with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority. The casino operator last week said capital expenditure on Crown Sydney reached AUD202 million between the fiscal years of 2011 and 2015. “A further AUD657 million is forecast to be spent [on the project] from fiscal 2016 to fiscal 2018,” the firm said in a filing on October 21.
A note from JP Morgan Securities Australia Ltd on October 21 described Crown’s balance sheet as currently “full” due to a pipeline of new casino projects – Crown Sydney; an extension at Crown Melbourne; and plans for a Las Vegas resort.
Crown Resorts also has a venture with Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd to develop casinos in Asia via Nasdaq-listed Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. Mr Packer attended on Tuesday the opening of the US$3.2-billion Studio City resort in Macau, a property 60 percent owned by Melco Crown.
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