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ESun’s $2.4 Billion Claim Against Casino Investors Dismissed

A Hong Kong court dismissed an eSun Holdings Ltd. unit’s $2.39 billion claim against investors in its Macau casino project including Oaktree Capital Management LP and Silver Point Capital LP.

High Court Judge A.T. Reyes ruled yesterday that East Asia Satellite Television (Holdings) Ltd.’s attempt to sue them is “untenable” under Macau and Hong Kong laws. He allowed a separate claim for $88.6 million against Oaktree and Silver Point for “inducing breach” of an agreement to proceed.

East Asia Satellite last October sued New Cotai LLC, owned by Oaktree, Silver Point and former Las Vegas Sands Corp. executive David Friedman, and its directors, accusing them of systematically hindering the development of their Macao Studio City project in order to force a renegotiation of the terms of their joint venture.

Calls to eSun executives requesting comment weren’t returned. Peter Lam, chairman of eSun parent Lai Sun Development Co., wasn’t available for comment after office hours in Hong Kong.

Friedman, New Cotai’s chief executive, said in a statement he was pleased the High Court dismissed “so many” of East Asia’s claims.

“We will vigorously defend the remaining claims and are confident that when the Court has the opportunity to consider the remaining claims, our position will be vindicated,” he said.

Playboy Mansion

East Asia Satellite and the group of investors announced the casino project in 2007. It was slated to include a film studio and million-square-foot shopping mall, and attracted Playboy Enterprises Inc., which signed a licensing agreement to build a Playboy mansion on the site.

ESun has sold a one-third stake in East Asia Satellite to Singapore’s CapitaLand Ltd. for about HK$659 million ($85 million).

By November, both Playboy and shopping mall developer Taubman Group had terminated their agreements. Taubman in October said Asia President Morgan Parker resigned, without saying who would replace him.

Friedman, Skardon Baker, Parag Vora and Gary Moross were among the New Cotai directors sued by East Asia Satellite.

The case is East Asia Satellite Television (Holdings) Ltd. and New Cotai LLC, HCA 2189/2009 in the Hong Kong Court of First Instance.

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