Australia’s Aquis Entertainment says it has officially completed the sale of its wholly-owned subsidiary Aquis Canberra Pty Ltd – the operating entity of Casino Canberra – to Iris CC Holdings Pty Ltd for a final sale price of AU$63 million (US$42.5 million).
Under the terms of the sale, Aquis has received an AU$60.5 million (US$40.8 million) completion payment with another AU$2.5 million (US$1.7 million) currently being held in escrow to be released in nine months’ time, subject to their being no warranty claims. Aquis will subsequently repay its own majority shareholder, Aquis Canberra Holdings (Aus) Pty Ltd, an entire AU$20.4 million outstanding loan repayment previously accrued in relation to its Casino Canberra investment.
In announcing the sale, Aquis said it will now consider how to utilize the remaining funds from the sale and whether to remain as a listed entity on the ASX.
It also announced the resignation of Allison Gallaugher as a director and CEO of Aquis, and the appointment of lawyers Simon Chan and Tony Pickett as new non-executive directors.
Gallaugher will instead continue as CEO of Casino Canberra under the new ownership of Iris Capital.
“As a Board, we are very pleased to have been able to negotiate and complete this transaction, which provides significant benefits to all stakeholders,” she said.
“We thank Tony Fung for his support since purchasing Casino Canberra, without which we would not have been able to achieve the growth in the business which has enabled Aquis to deliver the increase in value for all shareholders culminating in the transaction with Iris.
“As a CEO and employee, I am very excited to lead the Casino Canberra under Iris ownership and we look forward to continuing to grow the strong results we have built over the past few years and for the opportunities available for us all with Iris moving forward.
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, but Aquis balked at the reduced offering.