Australia-based Aquis Entertainment has officially announced that it has finalized the sale of its entire subsidiary, Canberra-based Aquis Canberra Pty Ltd, better known as the Casino Canberra site, to Iris CC Holdings Pty Ltd for an irrevocable sale price of AU$63 million, which is approximately US$42.5 million.
Under the terms of the sale agreement, Aquis received a completion payment from Iris of AU$60.5 million, which is approximately US$40.8 million.
However, an additional payment of AU$2.5 million, which is approximately US$1.7 million, is held in escrow at the moment and will be released to Aquis in nine months. This happened because there was no warranty claim.
In addition, Aquis will pay off the full AU$20.4 million loan to its majority shareholder, Aquis Canberra Holdings (Aus) Pty Ltd. The debt was incurred during the Aquis Casino Canberra investment.
Throughout the official announcement of the sale, Aquis officials said: “The company will now consider how to utilize the remaining funds from the sale and whether to remain as a listed entity on the ASX.”
“We’d also like to announce 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.”
In this regard, Gallaugher said: “As a Board, we are very pleased to have been able to negotiate and complete this transaction, which provides significant benefits to all stakeholders.
“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.”
Refusal of property renovation proposal:
The sale of Casino Canberra follows the failure of Aquis to enter into an agreement with the ACT government regarding a proposed AU$330 million, which is approximately US$226 million, renovation of the property.
Aquis, which completed its purchase of Casino Canberra in 2014, submitted its self-designed renovation plans in 2015, which included an application for permission to install up to 500 slot machines, as Casino Canberra is not allowed to have slot machines under existing legislation.
In addition, Aquis’ first bid was rejected in December 2018, with the government stating that the proposal is “untenable due to ongoing uncertainty surrounding regulation and financing details.”
Furthermore, the ACT Government submitted a counter offer in which Aquis would be licensed to run 200 slot machines and 60 EGMs under certain strict conditions, but it rejected the reduced offer.