Multiplex and The Star at war over cost blowouts, delays to $3.6b Queen’s Wharf project

Multiplex and The Star at war over cost blowouts, delays to $3.6b Queen’s Wharf project

A long-running dispute concerning cost blowouts at The Star Entertainment Group’s (ASX: SGR) $3.6 billion Queen’s Wharf development in Brisbane has escalated after project builder Multiplex filed a Supreme Court claim against the casino operator and its partners.

However, The Star has announced it is biting back with its own counterclaim for delays by Multiplex in achieving milestones under its contract for the project, the opening of which has been pushed back further to early next year.

The Star announced today that the Destination Brisbane Consortium, the group’s joint venture with Hong Kong-based partners Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium, has been served in the Supreme Court by Multiplex Constructions over claims for additional costs, extensions of time and damages.

Trouble between the parties has been brewing for some time, with The Star last year revealing the consortium has been holding ongoing negotiations with Multiplex over the disputed claims.

The Star revealed in its FY22 annual results that costs for Queen’s Wharf had blown out by $260 million.

Business News Australia has sought further comment from The Star, including details of the sum being sought by Multiplex and the extent of the financial redress it is seeking from the builder.

Queen’s Wharf, a city shaping development in Brisbane’s CBD that will deliver The Star’s new casino, 2,000 apartments, 1,100 hotel rooms and a Skydeck observation platform complemented by about 50 bars, cafes and restaurants, had originally been expected to open in late 2022.

The project opening was later moved to Christmas this year, but earlier this year the company revealed further delays would push the opening to April next year.

Despite the delays, The Star has already secured access to some of the completed dining and gaming areas within the complex.

As recently as June, The Star’s CEO Robbie Cooke said the revised opening date followed ‘careful consideration of current progress by our builder’.

“Queen’s Wharf has not been immune from the types of pressures that other major infrastructure projects across Australia have encountered,” Cooke said at the time.

In its statement to the ASX today, The Star says that while it has yet to file a defence to the Multiplex claim, the Destination Brisbane Consortium (DBC) also has claims against Multiplex for ‘liquidated damages payable for delay in achieving key milestones under the contract’.

“The Star understands that the claim seeks various declarations from the court regarding extensions of time, relevant milestone dates, liquidated damages, variations and certain other matters, including potential sums payable, in connection with the contract and seeks various orders in relation to those matters,” the company says.

“The Star understands that DBC intends to defend the proceedings and The Star will keep the market informed upon filing of DBC’s defence and any counter claims.”

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