Asian giant back in Echo picture

The arrival in Sydney last Friday of the chairman of Malaysian gaming giant Genting is best evidence yet that the casino operator is serious about its investment in Echo Entertainment - the owner of Sydney's Star complex.

The arrival in Sydney last Friday of the chairman of Malaysian gaming giant Genting is best evidence yet that the casino operator is serious about its investment in Echo Entertainment - the owner of Sydney's Star complex.

How close Genting intends to become with Echo will now be the subject of intense speculation.

K.T. Lim is one of the most powerful businessmen in Asia and his fly-in, fly-out visit to talk with gaming authorities about clearance to increase Genting's shareholding in Echo from 6.2 per cent to 25 per cent puts paid to suggestions that it had lost interest.

Mr Lim had breakfast with senior Echo executives on Friday before meeting gaming authorities.

Both Genting and James Packer's Crown have made applications to increase their stakes in Echo, but since then Mr Packer has pitched a proposal to build his own casino at Barrangaroo on Sydney's inner city foreshore. This raised a question over whether he would buy more Echo shares.

Meanwhile, Echo has applied to the NSW government for an extension of its exclusive right to operate a casino in NSW beyond 2019 - leaving the O'Farrell government to make a decision on which proposal would be better for the state.

Echo's proposal comes with an unspecified payment for additional exclusivity.

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