Shares in Crown rocket as disappointed Echo's star dims

Crown shares jumped higher after the NSW government gave James Packer approval to go to the next stage in developing his plan for Sydney's Barangaroo site.

Crown shares jumped higher after the NSW government gave James Packer approval to go to the next stage in developing his plan for Sydney's Barangaroo site.

A bid by the company to build Crown, a $1.5billion luxury resort and VIP-only casino on the city's harbourside, has been favoured by the NSW government, before a $1.1 billion bid from rival casino operator Echo Entertainment.

The controversial deal will grant $1billion in taxes and licensing fees to the state government in the first 15 years of the project, which would feature gaming tables and electronic tables but no poker machines.

Crown shares, which came out of a trading halt on Friday, lifted 39¢, or 3.49per cent, to close at $12.60. Shares in Echo Entertainment plunged 5.15per cent, or 15¢, to end the day at $2.76.

Mr Packer does not yet have a licence for the six-star venue but is able to move to the final stage of the development approval process. Meanwhile, Echo is unable to proceed with its own planned $1.1billion expansion of The Star, and from 2019 is likely to face stiff competition from Crown for the VIP market.

A government-appointed panel found Crown's proposal would contribute $442million a year to the state's gross domestic product through taxes and licence fees.

Echo said it was disappointed with the decision, but was determined to continue growing and realising value from its The Star.

Opinion —Page 8

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