„Casino Club is not on sale, but in search of new investments“

Statements by Cristóbal López, partner of the Argentine casino operating firm

This Argentine businessman is one of the most searched one by the media, and after a long silence, he granted an interview to La Nación newspaper, in which he spoke about the situation of the company, and he denied that he had the aim to sell the firm. He also talked about his relationship with former Argentine president, Néstor Kirchner.

From Spanish city of Alicante, in which he was on holidays until yesterday, Cristóbal López accepted, for the first time, to grant an interview with an Argentine medium of communication in order to talk about his businesses.

La Nación was searching for him in order to confirm if rumors that said that the company was on sale were true. López denied the numerous versions that affirm that his company Casino Club is on sale and said that, in fact, he is searching for new companies and tenders in the gaming market.

Besides, he admitted that he knows Former President Néstor Kirchner from a long time ago, however, he denied any commercial relationship with him. When asked about the possibility of the sale of his casinos, López assured: “It is not true. The only thing we are doing is to search for a partner in order to do some tenders related to petrol. Nothing else.”

According to the Argentine newspaper, López answered strongly to the journalist when asked about the operation, and when La Nación pointed that a dozen sources affirmed that negotiations were true, he said: “Who says that? A competitor, for sure! If you have to publish something, Why don’t you write that I am buying Codere and Boldt? (the current competitors of Casino Club in the gaming business in Argentina)”, declared López, and added: “In Casino Club, we are a group of partners comprised by (Ricardo) Benedicto, (Juan) Castellanos, (Héctor) Cruz and I, and we are not on sale or searching for a new partner. What’s more, you can put that we wish to grow and that we are in search of new investments, and that in August 2009 we will be inaugurating a new casino in Rosario. The problem is that you publish what you want. For example, you say that I am looking for a buyer of part of my firm Oil M&S. It is also a lie. The only thing we are doing is adding a partner to participate with us in some of the petrol tenders we have. I manage twelve businesses in total, and in the only one I am analyzing to add a new partner is in the petrol business”.

According to statements by the businessman, his business touch so varied industries as petrol and casinos, the provision of slots, transport companies, technology, construction, investments in livestock farming and agriculture, and Toyota and Scania.

When talking about his relationship with the former president, he commented: “I had known Kirchner a long time, although I have been in the business before we was even Río Gallegos Mayor. I started doing business at 15 years old, and when I was 18, I had to be in charge of the management of the company after my parents died in an accident. I have been administrating my companies for 37 years and I did it all on my own; without help. Besides, I started with the first casinos in 1991 and not in Santa Cruz, but in Chubut”.

When asked about the extension of the slots tender in Palermo Horse race-track up to 2032, he assured: “That’s something wrong. We are not partners in the tender, but slot providers. HAPSA (Argentine Palermo Horse racetrack) is in charge of the tender, which was granted to the firm in 2001, it means, before the arrival of Kirchner to the national government”. “Another lie has to do with the management of the Riverboat Casino, where we just control the 25% of the shares, nothing more. The rest belong to Cirsa and Hapsa”, he concluded.