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Star, Crown casino battle heats up on Gold Coast

Sat, Oct 29, 8:29am by Staff Writer

An international syndicate spearheaded by Star Entertainment is in the process of finalising a AUD$160 million purchase of the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort on the Gold Coast, per a report published by The Australian this month.

The jointly led venture also includes a pair of Hong Kong-based property development conglomerates, Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook.

According to reporting by The Australian, a newly created enterprise known as Destination Gold Coast Investments was launched to complete the venture. That new company lists Star’s CEO Matt Bekier, chair John O’Neill, and company secretary Paul Martin, along with Far East Australia’s executive director Craig Williams, and Chow Tai Fook CEO Patrick Tsang.

As the purchase has not yet been finalised, representatives for Star, Far East Consortium, and Chow Tai Fook all declined to offer comment on the report.

The Star-led group would be purchasing the landmark oceanfront resort from a Chinese-government-linked corporation known as Australia Wattle Development, which only acquired the property in recent months from the Chinese-financed, but Australian-owned, ASF Group.

The purchase is not expected to be followed up with an application for one of Queensland’s tightly guarded regional casino operation licenses. Even so, Star’s upper management undoubtedly intends the acquisition of premier Gold Coast waterfront land to disrupt the casino industry – specifically by preventing rival Crown Resorts from constructing a second casino resort of its own.

James Packer’s Crown had been in extended negotiations with ASF Group to purchase the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort – which boasts a highly desirable location and pristine beachfront setting along The Spit.

Packer and Crown are hoping to secure a deal to build a second Gold Coast casino, which would supplement their planned $3 billion megaresort along The Spit. The site for Crown’s planned Gold Coast expansion – which is being undertaken in conjunction with ASF Group – is just minutes away from the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, making it a potentially perfect acquisition target.

The executive management at Star undoubtedly knew of Crown’s previous negotiations with ASF Group, so when the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort was sold to Australian Wattle Development, Star representatives quietly began paving the way for their own purchase.

Star is also planning to build a AUD$3 billion casino megaresort in Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane, which is scheduled to begin construction in 2017 and open to the public by 2022. The Star Brisbane project, located at Queen’s Wharf, is also a joint venture led by Star in cooperation with Far East Consortium and Chow Tai Fook.

With Star and its Hong Kong affiliates already investing AUD$670 million into renovations and revamps to the Jupiters Hotel & Casino – located on the Gold Coast’s Broadbeach Island – industry insiders believe a similar renovation effort will be focused on the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort.

Due to the ongoing public outcry over Crown’s proposed high-rise towers in its own casino plans, Star is expected to maintain the area’s low-rise atmosphere with any renovation or rebuild.


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