Aquis Group, the developer that’s planning to build the world’s largest hotel in the tropical Australian city of Cairns, put the project on review after a related casino takeover fell through.
Aquis “will be undertaking a strategic review of its plans and development timetable over the coming months,” the developer said in a regulatory statement today. Its related offer for Cairns’s Reef Casino Trust hasn’t received all the regulatory approvals it needs and “will likely lapse” 28 November, Aquis said.
Aquis, controlled by Hong Kong developer Tony Fung, has lodged plans to spend A$8.15 billion ($7.1 billion) building a casino resort with 7,500 hotel rooms, an 18-hole golf course, and water park on a former sugarcane farm north of Cairns. The government of Queensland state has said it will allow as many as three new casinos, including the Aquis project, to attract Asian tourists.
The Reef Casino takeover “was always important to Aquis’ overall financial and investment plans,” the bidder said in today’s statement. While it may consider a new bid for the Trust next year, “there is no certainty any such transaction would eventuate”, Aquis said.
Aquis Casino Acquisitions Pty. last November offered A$214 million to take over Reef Casino Trust, and received the backing of the company’s two largest shareholders, Accor SA and Casinos Austria AG. The bidder held about 83 per cent of Reef Casino shares on 22 November, according to a statement.
Aquis has been told by Queensland’s Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation that it wasn’t possible to grant all approvals by 28 November, when the takeover for Reef Casino is due to lapse. The Office didn’t tell Aquis of a date when the approvals would be granted, the bidder said. It would work with the Office “to progress its probity enquiries” and try to complete them as soon as possible.
Another related takeover, of Casino Canberra, should take place at a reduced price of A$6 million before 25 December, Aquis said.
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland