Aquis Entertainment Ltd is on the verge of selling Casino Canberra after signing a share purchase agreement with Capital Leisure & Entertainment Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of hospitality giant the Oscars Group, for AU$52 million (US$36 million).
Although subject to regulatory approvals, the sale would see Oscars acquire 100% of shares in Casino Canberra Ltd, which holds the casino license to operate Casino Canberra, as well as all associated assets. The transaction is to be funded on a debt and cash free basis other than an AU$3 million (US$2.1 million) cash payment to help Aquis meet certain casino regulatory requirements.
Aquis said the sale was designed to help the company seek new business opportunities, with an update expected by the end of the financial year on 30 June 2022.
“The Transaction provides considerable value to the company and its shareholders,” said Allison Gallaugher, CEO of Aquis and Casino Canberra.
“It recognises the attractive operating performance of the business which has continued to trade well since reopening post the COVID-19 lockdowns. As an employee of Casino Canberra, I am also very excited about the future and working with Oscars on the continual improvement of our business.”
Mario Gravanis, Director of Oscars, added, “We are excited by the opportunity to acquire the Casino Canberra business. We will be working closely with Aquis over the coming months to satisfy the necessary conditions precedent with minimal disruption to the business and look forward to working with the Casino Canberra team in the future.”
The sale of Casino Canberra comes after Aquis failed to reach an agreement with the ACT Government over a proposed AU$330 million (US$226 million) redevelopment of the property.
Aquis, which purchased Casino Canberra in 2014, submitted its original redevelopment plans in 2015 including a request for permission to install up to 500 slot machines. Casino Canberra is not permitted to operate slot machines under current legislation.
The company’s initial bid was rejected in December 2018, with the government describing the proposal as untenable due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding regulation and financing details. Instead, The ACT Government issued a counter offer under which Aquis would be permitted to run 200 slot machines and 60 EGMs subject to certain strict conditions. Aquis has balked at the reduced offering.