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Genting, Lim Units Boost Stake In Echo Entertainment To 9.9%
Perspective | 22 June 2012
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Companies linked to Genting and its chairman Lim Kok Thay increased their stake in Echo Entertainment Group, the operator of Sydney’s only casino, to almost match that of billionaire James Packer.

Genting, Genting Singapore PLC and Genting Hong Kong have a combined 9.9 percent of Echo, according to a stock exchange filing on 20 June. Packer’s Crown has a 10 percent stake and is seeking regulatory permission to buy more.

The Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority in New South Wales state, where Echo’s Star casino operates, has not received an application from Genting to increase its stake above the 10 percent limit, the regulator said in an e-mailed statement on 20 June. The Genting holding may be an investment at the moment, said Tan Kam Meng, an analyst at TA Securities Holdings.

“We don’t feel it will lead to a merger or acquisition,” he said. “That’s because we feel Echo is expensive at this price and James Packer will have a home advantage if there is a hostile bid.”

Genting Hong Kong, which operates cruise ships and part owns a casino in the Philippines, bought 2.8 percent of Echo for A$82.6 million (US$84 million), it said 18 June in a regulatory filing. Genting Singapore, which operates one of only two casinos in the city state, during the week ended 15 June revealed it also bought a stake, which Echo said was 4.9 percent.

Perpetual Sells
Kuala Lumpur-based Genting controls Genting Singapore, Asia’s second-biggest gambling company by market value.

Genting Hong Kong is 57 percent owned by the family of Lim Kok Thay, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Crown said in February it applied to the regulator for approval to increase its voting power in Echo above 10 percent.

Perpetual applied for the approval to increase its stake above the limit in November, head of equities Matt Williams said 7 May. The fund manager cut its stake in Echo to 5.2 percent, from 8 percent, it said in a separate statement to the stock exchange on 20 June.

The regulator declined to comment on the status of Crown or Perpetual’s applications, government spokesman Scott Tucker said in an e-mail.

Crown, which owns casinos in Melbourne and Perth, said in February it would seek a board seat and regulatory permission to increase its Echo stake above the 10 percent limit applied to all investors. Echo, which also owns three casinos in Queensland state, rebuffed the move by Packer citing his position as a rival.

Echo Entertainment’s John Story quit as chairman this month after a campaign to oust him by Packer.

Genting Singapore  0.900 -- --   
Business: Develops, operates & mkts casinos & IRs globally, including Australia, M'sia, Philippines & UK. [FY18 Turnover] Gaming (66.1%), non-gaming (33.8%), others & invs (0.1%).

Insight: May-19, 1Q19, despite Co's non-gaming business reg... Read More

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