Perpetual Approved to Raise Echo Stake as Crown, Genting Wait

Perpetual Ltd., the Australian fund manager with a 3.7 percent stake in casino operator Echo Entertainment Group Ltd., has regulatory approval to own more than 10 percent of the company.

Perpetual can lift its maximum voting power in Echo, which operates Sydney’s only casino and three in Queensland state, to 15 percent following approvals from regulators in New South Wales state and Queensland, Echo said today in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Rival casino operator Crown Ltd. and companies linked to Genting Bhd. are awaiting approvals to increase their stakes beyond 10 percent, possibly presaging a bidding war for Echo, said Siobhan Weston, an analyst at Citigroup Inc. Crown, controlled by billionaire James Packer, has 9 percent of Echo, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The applications from Crown and Genting highlight “the bid interest in the company which should continue to underpin the stock price in the short term” Weston wrote in a note to clients June 27.

Echo rose 0.6 percent to A$4.29 as of 11:09 a.m. in Sydney. The shares have jumped 18 percent since Crown disclosed its stake Feb. 24.

Genting HK and Genting Singapore Plc together own 8.9 percent of Echo, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Perpetual has reduced its stake to about 28.7 million shares, from about 62.3 million as of July 27, 2011, the data show.

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