Landmarks mum on casino licence - Thursday 1st of May 2008

Landmarks Bhd is keeping mum on whether it has obtained a gaming licence from the Indonesian authorities to operate its proposed casino on Bintan Island off Indonesia.

Nonetheless, the company’s shareholders yesterday unanimously approved its proposed acquisition of the remaining 26% stake in Bintan Treasure Bay Pte Ltd (BTB) that plans to develop Treasure Bay, within which an integrated resort with a casino is to be built.

Speaking to reporters after its EGM here yesterday, BTB deputy chief operating officer Paul Leong said Landmarks was aware of investors’ concern on the gaming licence issue. However, he said he was not in the position to make a clarification.

Asked if BTB had officially obtained the gaming licence, he said: “I cannot say that. We will (clarify the matter) soon. I have to speak to the board and get authority (to speak about this issue). We will issue a statement as soon as possible.”

Landmarks directors could not be reached for comment as they left the meeting room without speaking to reporters.

In January, Landmarks said it had been given the authority to venture into gaming within its integrated resort in Treasure Bay, following the designation of the enclave as an exclusive integrated tourism zone (EITZ).

However, Singapore’s Straits Times reported last week, quoting an Indonesian official, that the casino project in Bintan was rejected “a long time ago”.

In fact, Landmarks had said in its circular to shareholders that it had not obtained all required approvals from the relevant authorities for the entire Treasure Bay project. It is not sure if these “required approvals” include that for operating a casino.

Interestingly, Leong said no shareholders raised questions during the meeting on whether the company had secured a gaming licence for the Bintan casino. “They are all in high spirits supporting the vision of the project,” he added.

However, a shareholder later said questions that were raised during the meeting included funding of the project and the topography of Bintan Island.

The construction of the larger Treasure Bay project, which also includes a town centre, cultural village, villas and condominiums other than the integrated resort, will span a period of eight years until 2015.

With the inclusion of the integrated resort, the entire development will have an estimated gross development value of RM9.6 billion and a gross development cost of RM4.5 billion.

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