Australian casino operator Echo Entertainment Group has burnished its bid for a new Brisbane casino license by partnering with two Chinese companies. Echo has teamed with Chow Tai Fook (CTF) Enterprises Ltd. and Far East Consortium (Australia), a subsidiary of Far East Consortium (FEC) International Ltd., on a joint venture they’ve dubbed the Destination Brisbane Consortium. The other bidders on the shortlist for the Queens Wharf development in Brisbane include James Packer’s Crown Resorts and China’s Greenland Investment.
Echo’s two new Chinese partners had originally submitted their own tandem bid for the Brisbane casino but ultimately decided to throw in their lot with Echo. The three joint venture partners have signed a memorandum of understanding in which the two Hong Kong-based firms will each contribute 25% of the capital needed to develop the project while assuming responsibility for the resort’s residential component. Echo will provide the other 50% of the capital and will operate the project’s casino.
CTF is an investment holding company that includes property and hospitality interests but is perhaps best known as the world’s largest jewelry retailer, operating over 2k points of sale across China. CTF founder Cheng Yu-tung is also a shareholder in Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), the parent company of Macau casino operator SJM Holdings, while Cheng’s son is a non-executive director at SJM. FEC is a property developer with a global reach that includes running New York’s Trump Palace. FEC has also built apartment towers in Australia and has a senior management team in Melbourne.
Echo CEO Matt Bekier said the new joint venture would combine Echo’s experience in the Brisbane casino market with the two Chinese firms’ mixed-use development knowhow as well as their ties to China, the magical land where high-rolling gamblers grow on trees. Echo already operates the Treasury Casino in Brisbane, which Queensland Premier Campbell Newman criticized a year ago as “not world standard.”