GENTING'S ECHO AMBITIONS NOW UP TO QUEENSLAND

GENTING'S ECHO AMBITIONS NOW UP TO QUEENSLAND

ASIAN leisure group and cruise line operator Genting Hong Kong has been given the green light by NSW regulators to lift its stake in Echo Entertainment (ASX:EGP) from 10 per cent to 23 per cent.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) today finally announced THAT approval had been granted for the application that was lodged by Genting in 2012.

However, the Asian company which owns Star Cruises and has since expanded into resorts, now has to wait on the Queensland Government's blessing before proceeding.

ILGA says its approval caps Genting's voting power in Echo at a 23 per cent rather than 25 per cent.

In granting the approval, ILGA says it took into consideration whether Genting and any individual or entity connected with the company would be suitable associates of the management of The Star Sydney, Echo's flagship property.

The authority concedes the application took longer than expected, initially blaming Genting for not providing it with required information.

It says Genting also had since made investments in a number of jurisdictions where the authority 'had little background knowledge, requiring on several occasions the commencement of new lines of investigation'.

"The authority at all times worked to bring the investigation to a conclusion as soon as it was in a position to do so," says Chris Sidoti, the ILGA chair in his decision.

Genting is controlled by Malaysian billionaire KT Lim and the group also controls one of Asia's largest gaming companies, Genting Singapore. It has investments in a number of US casinos.

ILGA says its investigation into Genting has been run independently of the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing in Queensland, although it says it has liaised with the Queensland authority when needed.

There is no indication when the Queensland decision will be handed down.

Echo's shares, which have benefitted from a strong FY15 financial performance, rose to a high of $4.80 on the news this morning.

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