21 March 2019
An artist's impression of the A$8.15 billion Aquis project in Cairns.
An artist's impression of the A$8.15 billion Aquis project in Cairns.

Queensland shortlists HK, China-backed bids for casino licenses

Queensland authorities in Australia have shortlisted two consortia backed by Hong Kong and mainland Chinese investors for submission of detailed business plans as the state government seeks to award two new casino licenses, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Wednesday.

Hong Kong-based businessman and stock market guru Tony Fung is the selected bidder for a resort license in Cairns, the report said. Tony is the son of Fung King-hey, the founder of Sun Hung Kai Securities, currently known as Sun Hung Kai & Co. (00086.HK), 

Fung has proposed to set up a A$8.15 billion (US$7.55 billion) casino resort named Aquis in Cairns. The project comprises nine hotels that can provide a total of 3,750 rooms and will have facilities such as an aquarium, stadium, golf courts and other amenities.

Last year, Fung acquired The Reef, the one and only casino hotel in Cairns for A$200 million.

The other new license that Queensland proposes to issue is for a facility in Gold Coast. For that venture, authorities have shortlisted ASF Consortium, which is made up of Australia-listed ASF Group, China State Construction Engineering Corp, and CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Co.

CCCC Guangzhou Dredging is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Communications Construction Co. (01800.HK).

The ASF Consortium plans to invest AS$7.5 billion for a project that will include casinos and a cruise terminal.

There are now 13 casinos in Australia, spread across Perth, Sydney, Gold Coast, Cairns, Brisbane and northern Queensland. The new licenses will end the dominance of Echo Entertainment, which has gaming complexes in Gold Coast and Brisbane.

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