The Macau Metro Monitor, May 24, 2013




James Packer's Crown Ltd has sold its 10% stake in rival casino operator Echo Entertainment Group Ltd for about 264 million Australian dollars (US$254 million).  The deal surprised the market, because it came just two weeks after Crown secured government approval to more than double its stake in Echo, which rekindled speculation that it was preparing a takeover bid for the owner of Sydney's the Star casino.


The sale diminishes the possibility of Crown launching a bid for its smaller rival by market value, but could clear the way for a takeover bid from Genting Bhd, which already holds 5.2% of Echo through affiliate companies.


Crown's investment in Echo meant that Packer would still have some exposure to Sydney's casino market, even if the government rejects his bid for a gaming floor at Barangaroo.  His decision to withdraw from Echo suggests he is confident of receiving approval for a casino license in Sydney.


A spokesman for NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the application process is continuing, with final bids due by June 21. A decision would subsequently be made "as soon as possible" following advice from a government advisory committee.



Yu Yio Hung, a Macau junket operator, said that he would like to see the creation of a formal blacklist of VIP gamblers who fail to repay their credit.  Yu said “I’d like to see the setting up of a database – a blacklist database – so that if a VIP customer has an unpaid balance and therefore an outstanding debt, all the junket operators will know about it so that the player cannot then borrow more money from other junket operators and go bust”.


The 27-year veteran of Macau high roller operations, runs a junket business called CCUE with rooms at MGM Macau, L’Arc, and Altira.


The Court of Second Instance rejected LVS's attempts to register “Cotai Strip CotaiExpo” and “Cotai Strip CotaiArena” as trademarks.  The Portuguese-language newspaper Jornal Tribuna de Macau quoted two judgments from the Court of Second Instance that say both the expressions ‘Cotai’ and ‘Cotai strip’ stand for a specific area of the city where gaming, hotel and entertainment activities are being developed.

The court said the expressions are too generic and fail to distinguish Las Vegas Sands from other companies that could produce or sell the same goods. The judgments do not disclose which companies are involved in the dispute.  However, Business Daily reported last week that MPEL was fighting Sands in court over the trademark “Cotai Strip CotaiTravel”.


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