First casino backed

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 1994, 12:00am

IN a place so enamoured of gambling and with good links to ''Down Under'', it is surprising that Hong Kong has heard so little of one of the most successful recent corporate floats in Australia.

That company is Crown Casino Ltd, the group with the licence to build and operate the first casino in Melbourne, the capital of the Australian state of Victoria.

Investors rushed to take up shares in the initial public offering (IPO) and the issue itself was rationed.

When it came back on the market on March 9, it did so at a 34 per cent premium to the issue price, that is A$1.61 (about HK$8.9) closing compared with the $1.20 float price.

A lot of the interest has to do with the huge casino complex the company plans to build on the banks of Melbourne's Yarra River.

But it also reflects the reputation of the backers - property developer Hudson Conway, Australia's richest individual, Kerry Packer, the Fosters Brewing group, and some of Australia's oldest family names such as Baillieu.

It is a long time since such a team was put together in Melbourne, which was harder hit by recession and the failure of 1980s entrepreneurs than almost any other city in Australia.