Star Cruises gets shareholders‘ nod to sell casino stake

Hong Kong – Star Cruises has won shareholders‘ approval to sell a 25 per cent stake in a casino project for SGD 255 million (about RM574 million) to sister firm Genting International in a move to placate Singapore’s government.

The sale now needs approval from Genting International shareholders, due this month, Star Cruises president David Chua said yesterday.

The two firms, both controlled by Malaysia’s Lim family through Kuala Lumpur-listed gaming group Genting Bhd, in December won a bid to build Singapore’s second casino in a project worth USD 3.4 billion (about RM12 billion).

However, the group upset the city-state’s authorities when it unveiled a tie-up with Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho a month later.

Genting International has already withdrawn from the partnership with Ho, but Star Cruises had remained in the deal.

Chua said yesterday that the Singapore Government had not „directly“ brought up the involvement of Ho, who is a minority shareholder of Star Cruises.

„Up to now, all the questions raised by the Singapore Government have not been directly related to Mr Ho,“ Chua said.

Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said last month that Ho’s involvement might jeopardise the firms‘ casino licence, adding that the island state – which guards its squeaky-clean image – would not resemble Macau once casinos opened their doors.

Ho dominated gambling in Macau for about four decades.

However the former Portuguese enclave developed a reputation among many in the region for triad gangs and prostitution.

The sale of Star Cruises‘ slice in the Singaporean project would allow Star Cruises to devote its attention to a thriving cruise business that is Asia’s largest, as well as an envisioned USD 3.5 billion (about RM12 billion) project in Macau, Chua added.

He said the firm would divulge more details later.

„Macau is, and will become, an important centre for all leisure, hospitality, and entertainment groups. We as Genting will continue to look at Macau,“ he said. (Reuters)