SkyCity sees blue skies in Queenstown, quits Christchurch

Dec. 20 (BusinessDesk) - SkyCity Entertainment Group, which operates hotels and casinos across Australia and New Zealand, has sold its half-share of Christchurch casino and taken full ownership of Queenstown's gaming centre.

The Auckland-based company sold its 50 percent share in Christchurch casino for $80 million to tourism operator Skyline Enterprises and bought Skyline's 40 percent stake in the Queenstown operation for $5 million, SkyCity said in a statement.

"Increasingly, our Horizon and Eight VIP customers in Auckland want to visit Queenstown as it is so iconic to New Zealand and has a high international profile," chief executive Nigel Morrison said. "Having complete ownership will allow us to develop a VIP offering that will better accommodate these high-spending visitors."

The Christchurch casino contributed $5.6 million to SkyCity's 2012 earnings, 9.7 percent lower than a year earlier as it struggled with post-earthquake operating environment. In contrast, Queenstown's revenue climbed 12 percent to $8.6 million and contributed earnings of $1.5 million to SkyCity on rising numbers of Asian visitors.

Morrison said Skyline expressed an interest in buying the Christchurch stake, which fit with SkyCity's preference for being outright owners of properties the company is involved in.

Shares in SkyCity climbed 4.7 percent yesterday to $3.79, while Skyline stock, which trades on the Unlisted platform, rose 2.1 percent to $7.15.

(BusinessDesk)

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