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Packer Picks Singapore Gardens Architect for Crown Casino

Billionaire Packer Picks Singapore Gardens Architects for Casino
An artist's impression of Crown Ltd.'s Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, left, designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects. Source: Crown Ltd. via Bloomberg

Crown Ltd., the gaming company controlled by billionaire James Packer, chose one of the architects of Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay project to build a casino tower planned for the shores of Sydney’s harbor.

Wilkinson Eyre Architects, which also designed the 440-meter Guangzhou International Finance Center and the side-tilting Millennium Bridge in Gateshead, England, was chosen to work on the tower, the Melbourne-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Crown and Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. have both applied to New South Wales state with casino development plans, only one of which can go ahead.

Packer has promised to spend A$1 billion ($984 million) on the complex targeting high-rolling Asian gamblers at the Barangaroo development site just west of Sydney’s main business district. Echo is seeking to upgrade its Star casino on an adjacent stretch of harbor shore and has applied for the extension of an exclusive casino license due to expire in 2019 to support the work.

“This was my personal preference” of three shortlisted designs, Packer told an event hosted by the Australian Financial Review newspaper in Sydney today. “It wasn’t even, from my perspective, close. I think the curvature of this building is sympathetic to Sydney Harbour and unique to Sydney Harbour.”

Packer owns 50 percent of Crown and is the company’s chairman. The stock declined 1.1 percent to A$13.35 at the close in Sydney trading, while the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 percent.

Crown last week won approval from the state’s gaming regulator to lift its stake in Echo beyond the current 10 percent level to as much as 23 percent. It’s still waiting for approval from authorities in Queensland state, where Echo has three casinos. Genting Hong Kong Ltd., the cruise ship company controlled by Lim Kok Thay, in October also applied to raise its stake in Echo to 25 percent.

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