Crown Buys Out Schiavello at One Queensbridge


Australia's biggest casino operator Crown Resorts looks set to pay $80 million to buy out property developer Schiavello Group’s half stake in the abandoned One Queensbridge project.

Plans to build the nation's tallest tower, a $1.75 billion hotel and apartment complex opposite the casino in Melbourne, has sat in limbo after Crown failed to secure finance ahead of a key planning deadline earlier this year.

The casino operator now hopes the site could accommodate a fourth hotel once it has taken full control of the stalled ­project, deliver “significant economic and tourism benefits to Victoria”.

The deal will also include all pre-development assets, including all intellectual property and designs for the project.

▲ A key feature is the pedestrian footbridge linking the new tower hotel with the Crown Casino itself. Image: Wilkinson Eyre

The Crown project, designed by London-based architects Wilkinson Eyre, has been mired in controversy from the start.

The state government had approved the tower two years ago under the condition construction started in March of this year on the proposal that included a six-star hotel of 388 rooms and 708 apartments.

Approval for the 90-storey Southbank tower which includes a pedestrian bridge connecting the new hotel to the Crown Casino complex, took less than a year.

The building also holds a plot ratio of 56:1, with the 200,000sq m tower having more than three times the density under the maximum allowable plot ratio of 18:1 a measure that was emplaced by Victorian planning minster Richard Wynne to prevent “inappropriate development”.

The 90-level tower will rise to 323 metres, eclipsing the Australia 108-apartment tower at 319 metres that is under construction nearby. It will also pip the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast, which measures 322 metres, courtesy of a spire atop its roof.

“The transaction remains subject to long-form agreements between Crown and the Schiavello Group,” Crown advised.

Related: Star Entertainment Group Profit Falls Amid VIP Downturn

▲ Crown Resorts has endured a difficult few weeks with allegations about gaps in the company’s governance, regulatory and compliance systems exposed. Image: Bloomberg

Crown profit slumps 28pc as VIPs cash out

Crown, the casino operator backed by billionaire James Packer, posted a 28 per cent decline to $401.8 million in full year profit as foreign gamblers retreated from the tables and slots.

The casino operator saw its normalised results for the year, which strip out the variance in VIP gambler win rates, down 4.7 per cent to $368.6 million.

The drop in normalised earnings hit the group's key properties with Crown Melbourne down 8.6 per cent to $589.5 million, Crown Perth down 10.8 per cent to $221.8 million and Crown Aspinalls in London down 46.5 per cent to $6.4 million.

Crown's net profit dived to $401.8 million over the year, with revenue from foreign VIP gamblers retreating by 26.1 per cent to $38 billion.

“Crown’s Australian operations’ full year result reflected subdued market conditions”, Crown Resorts executive chairman John Alexander said.

Crown shares have fallen about 10 per cent in the three weeks since the company's dealings with its junket partners was exposed and multiple state and federal inquiries into the matter were launched.

“Crown has zero tolerance for criminal elements and we view these inquiries as an opportunity to continue our cooperation with regulators and other agencies,” Alexander said.

Rival operator Star Entertainment, which has casinos in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, last week reported a 35 per cent fall in VIP turnover.


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