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Australia – Crown still interested in ASF’s Gold Coast opportunity

By - 15 March 2017

Crown Resorts is still interested in being the casino operator behind ASF Consortium’s $3bn Gold Coast Integrated Resort.

Despite weeks of media speculation concerning the financial viability of ASF Group, one of the expected members of the ASF Consortium, a source close to the deal has confirmed that Crown is still at the table.

“Crown is waiting to see what happens following the consultation phase when things become more concrete. They are still talking about the possibility of being the operator of the facility”
ASF Director Louis Chien added: “We are still in negotiations and in discussion with Crown and are happy to continue to work with them. We have to step through the process with the government the right way to make sure everyone is happy and all parties are satisfied.”

Questions had been raised over Crown’s involvement following revelations in ASX filings that ASF Group had already spent $92m of the $102m raised by investors.

Mr. Chien was keen to emphasise the difference between ASF Consortium and ASF Group.

“We emphasise that the Gold Coast Integrated Resort project will be delivered by ASF Consortium, not ASF Group,” he said. “ASF has a spotless track record of raising capital from its networks in its 11-year history.The half-year audit is a point in time reflection of our activities. Any given year, the Company can be up or down based on what assets have been transacted on and what projects are in the pipeline. This year is no different. The Company is project heavy which is extremely positive. This is business as usual for ASF.”

As the Gold Coast Integrated Resort continues to progress through the State Government’s Integrated Resort Development process, ASF has released more design detail on the public open space, entertainment and leisure experiences, including five towers of up to 45 storeys, rooftop terraces and gardens, boardwalks, skywalks, parks, and beaches.

Gold Coast Integrated Resort architect Michael Rayner, of Queensland-based Blight Rayner Architecture, said the design had to reflect the Gold Coast community’s values and diversity to ensure it appealed to locals and tourists alike.

“We were able to achieve this scale of public offerings by increasing height; this approach reduces the building footprint and opens up more public space for locals and visitors to enjoy,” Mr Rayner said.
“The existing three storey height limit was appropriate for its time but can only result in privatised resorts with limited public accessibility such as already exists on The Spit. The towers we have designed are well-dispersed on the near six hectare site, creating maximum public realm and opening up new and accessible areas never before available to Gold Coast residents or visitors,” he said.
ASF Development Director Dean LaVigne added: “Height and scale are required to attract tourists, generate critical mass onsite, and deliver the revenue required to create high quality public spaces and free attractions for all ages and nationalities to enjoy.“We strongly believe the building heights are reasonable and necessary, and the combination of community, economic, and design benefits from the project give the Integrated Resort ‘significant planning merit’,” he said.

The $3bn Gold Coast Integrated resort is expected to inject $710m per annum into the Gold Coast economy, according to independent Australian property advisory MacroPlan Dimasi.

ASF’s latest concept plan is also forecast to attract an additional 2.1m visitor nights per annum to the Gold Coast region, growing the region’s total to over 3.5 million per year, of which the GCIR represents 60 per cent of this combined annual increase.

Chairman of Gold Coast Tourism, Paul Donovan, said: “The Gold Coast Integrated Resort will be a huge drawcard for the Gold Coast as it raises the region’s profile in the same way the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) vaulted Hobart to the world stage. These types of iconic products deliver people to our door and push our cities and regions to lift their game and cast a lasting impression with great offerings like restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

“Our community and region is on a journey of growth and innovation and this resort will shine a light on everything we have to offer and encourage us to mature and expand so we remain the envy of every city in Australia,” he said.

With international visitors expected to account for 70 per cent of the additional visitor nights, local businesses can take part in the enhanced visitor economy and increased tourist expenditure.
Mr. Chien added: “This project is not your standard development as it provides significant immediate and ongoing investment and benefits for the region. It delivers 13,000 jobs, injects over $700m in to the economy and it will spearhead future tourism growth for Queensland. It’s a game changer not only for the Gold Coast, but for Queensland, so now is the time for the Gold Coast to speak up and ensure they secure the prosperity of the community and future generations,” he said.

ASF Consortium was selected as the preferred proponent to develop the Gold Coast Integrated Resort
It was formed in 2013 to respond to the State Government’s global tender for an Integrated Resort Development (IRD). Due to the large size and scale of the project, the Consortium at the time comprised of China State Construction Engineering Company (CSCEC) and CCCC Guangzhou Dredging Co Limited, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC), the owner of John Holland Group. Both are Global Fortune 500 companies with a combined balance sheet of more than $80bn and capable to deliver the entire project each on its own.

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