According to a Wednesday report from Asia Gaming Brief, the Sydney-listed firm agreed a provisional deal in May that was to have seen it offload the 38,750 sq ft venue to a subordinate of local hospitality giant Oscars Hotels Australia Proprietary Limited for roughly $35.85 million. The source explained that this share purchase arrangement was later upped to around $39.7 million while moreover featuring a clause that was to have seen the seller receive some $2.06 million in cash in order to help it meet an unspecified number of casino regulatory requirements.
However, this understanding was reportedly upended on Monday after Aquis Entertainment Limited pronounced that a second party had lodged a rival bid for the Canberra property containing a price that was ‘materially higher’ than earlier offered by Oscars Hotels Australia Proprietary Limited. This was joined by an assertion that the operator intended to release a more detailed explanation of the current situation later in the week.
Aquis Entertainment Limited has now reportedly identified this second interested party as Sydney-headquartered Iris CC Holdings Proprietary Limited while additionally divulging that its bid is worth approximately $41 million. The company purportedly noted that the potential buyer has also sweetened this higher offer by including an about $683,670 ‘break fee’ that would be payable upon completion.
Read a Tuesday statement (pdf) from Aquis Entertainment Limited…
“The terms and conditions of the Iris CC Holdings Proprietary Limited proposal are otherwise the same as the agreement with Oscars Hotels Australia Properietary Limited announced this morning. The Aquis Entertainment Limited board will consider the Iris CC Holdings Proprietary Limited proposal and update shareholders and the market in due course. Aquis Entertainment Limited shareholders do not need to take any action at the present time.”
Aquis Entertainment Limited reportedly spent just over $5 million so as to purchase the ageing Casino Canberra in 2014 before submitting plans the very next year that were to have seen the venue transformed via the addition of luxury shops, high-end restaurants and two hotels alongside a revitalized gaming floor offering up to 500 slots. But, this plan was ultimately denied in December of 2018 purportedly owing to regulatory uncertainty and financing issues in addition to local laws that forbid the enterprise from operating that many slots.
Faced with the real possibility that Aquis Entertainment Limited would shutter the only casino in Canberra and the local government reportedly countered by proposing a compromise deal that would have allowed the firm to bring in 200 slots and 60 electronic gaming machines under strict regulatory guidelines. Nevertheless, the operator balked at this suggestion and almost immediately began looking for a new firm to take over the running of its Casino Canberra venue.