Aquis Entertainment Ltd says it has received a third offer to acquire its Australian casino operation, Casino Canberra, from NSW-based Iris Capital.
The new offer, which provides for a purchase price of AU$60 million (US$41 million), is the largest received by Aquis to date and trumps an updated AU$58.2 million (US$39.5 million) proposal submitted by the original offerer, Capital Leisure & Entertainment Pty Ltd. Capital Leisure is a subsidiary of hospitality giant the Oscars Group.
As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, Aquis in May signed a a share purchase agreement with Capital Leisure 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, Aquis requested a trading halt earlier this week after receiving a second offer from an unnamed third party at a price “materially higher than $52 million.”
The company revealed Wednesday that, subsequent to this offer being received, Capital Leisure had upped its own proposal to AU$58.2 million and that the parties have now signed an amending deed to the share purchase agreement with Oscars to give effect to the increase in the sale price. They had also agreed an AU$1 million (US$678,500) break fee in the event that Aquis receives and accepts a superior rival offer.
Such a scenario appears to have now come to fruition following the Iris Capital proposal, which also includes contingency to incorporate the AU$1 million break fee into the offer price.
Aquis said Wednesday it will consider the Iris Capital proposal and update shareholders and the market in due course.
The likely 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.