Echo Entertainment has teamed up with a rival bidder from Hong Kong in the battle with James Packer’s Crown Resorts for Brisbane’s second casino.
Echo Entertainment has thrown down the challenge to James Packer’s Crown Resorts by teaming up with another bidder in the battle for Brisbane’s second casino licence.
Echo has joined forces with Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTF) and Far East Consortium to jointly bid for the new licence, hoping to stop Crown trumping Echo’s existing 19-year-old Treasury Casino in Brisbane.
The third remaining bidder is Chinese developer Greenland Investment.
Echo also operates The Star in Sydney and Jupiters on the Gold Coast.
Its deal halves the company’s share of the cost of the Queen’s Wharf tender, in what has been viewed as a move to comfort the concerns of Echo investors.
CTF, a private Hong Kong company that includes global property and the world’s largest jewellery retailer, and Hong Kong-listed property developer Far East, will equally cover the rest of the costs.
Echo has already lost the bid for Sydney’s second casino licence to Crown, which plans to operate a VIP-only casino from 2019.
If Echo wins the new Brisbane licence, it is expected to close the Treasury operation and build a new casino and six-star hotel development for an estimated $1 billion.
The company’s shares added eight cents, or 2.6 per cent, to $3.16.
Echo chief executive Matt Bekier said its new partnership combined Australian casino experience with expertise in international hospitality and mixed use development, plus strong links to Chinese and other Asian markets.
“An integrated development presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for transformational change across the city and south east Queensland,” he said.
However Morningstar analyst Brian Han said he favoured Crown as the more likely bid winner.
“Going by their track record and how they’ve played the whole game in Sydney I certainly give them a very good fighting chance,” he told AAP.
He said the new Brisbane project was too big for any of the bidders to take on themselves, and expects Crown will also enlist partners if it wins the tender.