In Australia and casino operator Aquis Entertainment Limited reportedly accepted a bid worth approximately $42.5 million earlier today to sell its Casino Canberra property to local pub and hotel concern Iris CC Holdings Proprietary Limited.
According to a report from the Australian Financial Review newspaper, the Sydney-listed casino firm agreed a provisional arrangement in May that was to have seen it offload the 38,750 sq ft property to a subordinate of local hospitality giant Oscars Hotels Australia Proprietary Limited for some $35.85 million. This share purchase arrangement was purportedly later upped to around $39.7 million and moreover featured a clause that was to have involved the seller receiving roughly $2.06 million in cash to help it meet an unspecified number of regulatory requirements.
However, Iris CC Holdings Proprietary Limited reportedly got in on the act early last week by floating a rival offer for the Canberra enterprise worth about $40.4 million before later increasing this bid to the winning $42.5 million. The company owned by billionaire real estate tycoon Sam Arnaout purportedly controls one of the country’s biggest private hotel and pub portfolios alongside a substantial development business undertaking projects in the cities of Newcastle, Sydney and Gold Coast.
The Australian Financial Review reported that the successful completion of the Casino Canberra sale to Iris CC Holdings Proprietary Limited now hinges on the approval of Aquis Canberra Holdings, which owns 88.5% of Aquis Entertainment Limited, as well as various liquor and casino regulators. The arrangement purportedly moreover contains a clause that would allow the expectant buyer to counter any subsequent rival offers and receive an about $683,670 ‘break fee’ should this current deal not proceed.
Reportedly read a statement from Arnaout…
“We are excited about the opportunity to acquire Casino Canberra and look forward to working collaboratively with the Aquis Entertainment Limited team in the future.”
Aquis Entertainment Limited reportedly spent just over $5 million 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, the local government reportedly countered by proposing a compromise deal that would have allowed the operator 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 keys to its Casino Canberra venue.