Open letter to Cairns from Tony Fung re Aquis

I have just received the following email as an “Open Letter to the Cairns Community” from Tony Fung. The letter talks about his “commitment to one day deliver AQUIS for Cairns” (my emphasis) and notes that the delays caused in the probity investigation for the Reef Casino takeover will result in “a comprehensive review of our strategy for AQUIS and may require some difficult decisions about the project.”

Sounds to me like 1) Cairns could be waiting a long while for AQUIS, and 2) the final result (if it eventuates at all) will be significantly different to what has been previously discussed. Time will tell.

Here’s the letter in full…

“I would like to thank the community once again for the overwhelming support you have shown for my vision for the AQUIS integrated resort at Yorkeys Knob. The high level of support I and my team have received, both privately and publicly from individuals and organisations, has brought me tremendous satisfaction and galvanised my commitment to one day deliver AQUIS for Cairns.

Like the vast majority of the community I believe Cairns can and should utilise its natural assets to have a vibrant, prosperous future as one of the world’s top holiday destinations. I believe AQUIS can be the catalyst for this new future without compromising any of the things what we all love about the city.

Over recent months and weeks my team has been working across many fronts to bring our shared vision to reality. As you can appreciate a project like AQUIS requires extensive planning and investment as well as a range of necessary regulatory approvals. Due to its complexity this process will naturally involve achievements and setbacks.

As you may be aware I have elected not to extend my offer to acquire the Reef Casino and Hotel. While the main Reef offer is now likely to be unsuccessful I have elected to continue with the purchase of the Canberra Casino in the ACT as I have been assured that transaction will be able to be completed shortly.

Having ownership of a casino in Australia prior to 31 December, 2014, is a key part of our plan for the financing of AQUIS at Yorkeys Knob and I am thankful for the cooperation of the owner Casinos Austria and the ACT regulatory authorities in facilitating this goal.

While we have been able to develop an alternative to full ownership of the Reef Hotel and Casino the failure of the offer will nevertheless require a comprehensive review of our strategy for AQUIS and may require some difficult decisions about the project. While undertaking the review we will continue to push forward with a number of regulatory hurdles including finalising our Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

It is also worth noting that we recently signed an extension of our option over the core site at Yorkeys Knob. The extension reflects our commitment to push ahead with AQUIS but also acknowledges the increasing complexity and difficulty of the approvals process and the fact we may need some more time than first anticipated.

Despite the challenges of recent weeks I wanted to put on the record my continued personal commitment to the development of AQUIS and my thanks for the overwhelming support for the project. Together, I still believe we can make this vision a reality.

Yours sincerely
Tony Fung
Chairman Aquis Group”

2 replies
  1. Mark Beath
    Mark Beath says:

    Some interesting comments earlier this week from Echo Chairman John O’Neill (Jupiters & Sydney Start Casino) reported at the Courier Mail. He also queried the viability of a second Gold Coast casino although clearly has a vested interest on that. If only such comments and more objective reports would sometimes make it through to the Cairns Post.

    The Echo chairman queried the $8.15 billion Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung plans to spend on a casino in Cairns.
    Mr Fung early this week said he was shelving plans to build the resort, blaming probity delays and red tape, but days later said he still had hopes the Aquis takeover bid of Reef Casino Trust would go ahead.
    Mr O’Neill believes the $8.15 billion price tag is too high.
    “I thought it was curious than an investor would want to invest $8 billion in Cairns,” he said.
    “It is not something Echo would do.“Would you invest $1 billion? Maybe. For $8 billion, you’d need a lot of things to go right.”


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