Shares in Australia’s Aquis Entertainment Ltd have been placed in a trading halt after the company received a second proposal to acquire Casino Canberra.
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, Aquis had in May signed a share purchase agreement with Capital Leisure & Entertainment Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of hospitality giant the Oscars Group, to sell 100% of shares in Casino Canberra Ltd, which holds the casino license to operate Casino Canberra, for a consideration of AU$52 million (US$36 million).
However, trading was halted on Friday and then placed into voluntary suspension from quotation on Monday, with Aquis revealing it is currently considering a second offer to acquire Casino Canberra.
The company said it has received a competing proposal in recent days as well as a revised offer from Capital Leisure – both at “materially higher prices to that agreed in the original agreement with Capital Leisure.”
Aquis is currently evaluating both proposals to determine which is superior, it explained. A full announcement on the decision is expected to be released on Tuesday and the voluntary suspension lifted before the resumption of trading on Wednesday.
The looming 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.