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Friday, April 25, 2008

Landmarks to clear up casino issue 'soon'

LANDMARKS Bhd will "soon" clarify whether it can build Indonesia's first legalised casino at Bintan, an island on which it plans to develop a water resort city, a group official said.

Media reports of late have highlighted that Indonesia's strict anti-gaming laws may prohibit gaming activities from being part of the planned RM9.6 billion tourism development project on Bintan.

"We definitely want to clear the issue up. We'll inform when we're more certain," Paul J.H. Leong, deputy chief operating officer of Bintan Treasure Bay Pte Ltd (BTB), a unit of Landmarks, said yesterday after a shareholders meeting. He declined to divulge more information.

At the meeting yesterday, shareholders unanimously approved a plan for Landmarks's wholly-owned subsidiary to buy a remaining 26 per cent stake it didn't own in BTB for RM360.8 million.

BTB is the company undertaking the Bintan Treasure Bay project. It owns 338ha of leasehold land there.

Landmarks had only last year paid RM403.8 million for its 76 per cent stake in BTB. This time around, it's paying a hefty price for the rest of the shares to take into account the revised price of BTB's assets after a revaluation on January 30.

Landmarks expects to complete the acquisition in the second quarter.

Having full ownership of BTB allows the Landmarks group to have full control of the direction of the Bintan Treasure Bay project.

It also enables it to get full access to the cashflows generated from the project.

Shareholders yesterday said they raised questions on the project's funding, to which an official responded that negotiations with banks were ongoing.

The group had a cash balance of RM372.8 million as at the end of last year.

By New Straits Times (by Adeline Paul Raj)

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