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Star enters trading halt amid takeover bid

Written by on May 20, 2024

Star Entertainment Group has entered a trading halt after confirming it had received a “number” of takeover bids.

It comes as the casino operator – which has venues in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast – faces scrutiny from multiple state government inquiries in addition to sanctions.

Star confirmed on Monday “confidential, unsolicited, preliminary and non-binding” interest in the business had been received.

But a spokesman appeared to downplay these bids.

“The company has received inbound interest from a number of other external parties regarding potential transactions including a consortium of investors which includes the entity Hard Rock Hotels and Resorts (Pacific), which The Star understands is a local partner of Hard Rock,” an ASX announcement reads.

“At this stage, none of the approaches has resulted in substantive discussions,” the ASX announcement says.

“The Star remains focused on its remediation activities in New South Wales and Queensland and participating in the Bell Two Inquiry.”

In the Sunshine State, where Star runs Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast, the company faces an impending 90-day operating licence suspension.

In 2022, The Star was found unsuitable to hold a casino licence in Queensland after an independent review, known as the first Bell inquiry, found there had been “major failings” from the company.

Star was hit with a $100 million fine as a result.

The Brisbane and Gold Coast 90-day licence suspension has now been deferred twice.

Last week the Queensland government deferred the three-month ban until May 31.

On the last day in May, a second Bell inquiry is due to hand over its report to the NSW government.

Across the border this time, Adam Bell SC has been investigating Star’s risk management culture, and whether the business has or is able to obtain financial resources that are both suitable and adequate for ensuring the financial viability of The Star Casino.

Further, on May 31 Mr Bell’s second report will outline Star’s response to the Queensland inquiry, how the company internally manages and reports, and how it complies with internal controls.