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Fourth tower for Crown could become a reality in Melbourne

Tue, Nov 12, 8:30am by William Brown

Crown Resorts’ dream of developing a fourth hotel tower at its flagship casino in Melbourne is one step closer after completing the purchase of property developer Schiavello Group’s 50 per cent stake in the adjacent One Queensbridge site.

The $80 million acquisition means that Crown now wholly owns the One Queensbridge development site, located opposite Crown Melbourne.

Asgam reports the company had originally planned to build Australia’s tallest tower – comprising both hotel and residential apartments – at a cost of $1.75 billion, but the future of the project has been in doubt ever since the former partners failed to secure financing for the project early this year.

Now Crown, whose purchase includes all pre-development assets, intellectual property and designs for the project, hopes to develop a fourth hotel tower for Crown Melbourne.

“The purchase represents Crown’s continued investment in Victoria and the Southbank arts and entertainment precinct,” Crown said in an August statement when it first proposed the buyout.

“The One Queensbridge site could accommodate a fourth Crown hotel which would deliver significant economic and tourism benefits to Victoria, including additional employment and training opportunities,” Crown said in a statement.

Crown and Melco deal stalls

Crown Resorts has been dealt another blow, with news that Melco Resorts & Entertainment has decided to put its purchase of a 20 per cent stake in Crown on hold for 60 days, pending the outcome of some of the regulatory investigations into Crown.

Casino Aus reported in September that the original deal between Crown and Melco became public in June.

Melco, under the direction of chief executive officer Lawrence Ho planned to buy a 20 per cent stake in Crown from James Packer for A$1.76 billion.

The deal included the purchase of 135.35 million shares of Crown at A$13 per share.

Packer has long wanted to take some steps back from the business and focus on his mental health and personal life, the report reads.

Ho’s offer came in shortly after extensive talks between Crown and Wynn Resorts fell apart.

Wynn was looking to acquire Crown with a A$10 billion bid, but as soon as Crown made an announcement about the potential deal, Wynn pulled back and withdrew it altogether.

The two companies never resumed talks.

When Ho stepped up to the plate, Packer was more than ready to deal.

The initial intent to purchase was complete on June 6, but there was already a delay in the deal closing due to a New South Wales regulatory investigation.

That put the potential closing date out to the first week of September, tentatively.

The very mention of Lawrence Ho gaining a foothold in a major Australian business gave many regulators and lawmakers pause.

Lawrence’s father, Stanley Ho, was long suspected of doing business that involved connections to organised crime.

The Ho family has always denied the allegations.

Stanley Ho is the founder of a holdings company that owns nearly 20 casinos in Macau.

He also has investments across Asia and into Europe.

He owns businesses in the fields of real estate, air transportation, banking, tourism, shipping and entertainment.

He is believed to be worth several billion dollars.


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