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SkyCity-Brookfield consortium short-listed for Gold Coast mega-development

Wednesday 6th March 2013

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Casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group and construction firm Brookfield Multiplex are in the final running to develop a site on the Gold Coast in Australia, in what's been tipped as Queensland's biggest tourism infrastructure development in the state's history.

SkyCity and Brookfield, known as the Azure Consortium, join ASF China Property Consortium, ACPI Consortium and Ridong Development on the short-list for the Broadwater Marine Project, which could include a hotel, casino, marina and super yacht facilities and residential development. The project is a tie-up between the Gold Coast City Council and Queensland state government, who are seeking private sector investment to build the tourism infrastructure.

"The process is still in its very early stages," SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison said. "During this next phase we look forward to learning more about the government's and Gold Coast City Council's specific goals, expectations and requirements, prior to providing a more detailed proposal for consideration."

SkyCity operates casinos in Adelaide and Darwin across the Tasman and in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown in New Zealand.

All four bids include a cruise ship terminal and three of the four pitched an integrated resort including a casino, according to a statement from the Queensland state government.

Queensland state deputy premier Jeff Seeney said he expects the detailed proposal stage to be done by the middle of the year.

"It is heartening that the market place is showing this level of interest," Seeney said.

Council and the state government have committed to fund the procurement process and assess the proposals, though a key objective is that the build is delivered at no cost to the government.

A similar situation in New Zealand saw SkyCity come under great public scrutiny when it offered to build a $350 million international convention centre in downtown Auckland, bearing the cost, in exchange for an extension to its gaming licence.

While the final decision of the government to negotiate with SkyCity passed muster with an Auditor-General's investigation, the process was deemed to be sloppy, with the casino operator treated differently from rival bidders.

Shares in SkyCity rose 0.5 percent to $4.20 yesterday, and have gained 11 percent this year. The stock is rated an average 'outperform' based on eight analyst recommendations compiled by Reuters, with a median target price of $4.20.

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