Since Hongkongese gambling laws do not leave much room for actual gambling, most news coming from this special territory usually involve business decisions with a global impact instead.
The latest such news involves a bid by billionaire Quek Leng Chan, one of Malaysia’s richest men, to buy out the minority shareholders of Hong Kong based Guoco Group Ltd., the parent of UK-based leisure and gambling company Rank Group.
Quek already owns 74.84% of Guoco and has already made two attempts at becoming the enterprise’s sole owner. The first one in 2004 did not go through because the offer did not reach the group’s market price. The second one at the end of last year was also voted down by the holders of the remaining 25.16% because they considered his USD 1.1 billion bid to be too low.
A few months later, a hundred million dollars (13.6%) higher could finally do the trick. Even though the offer falls far short of the company’s 2012 value, the company itself falls short of that value on the stock market. In fact, Guoco’s trading at a discount is one of the factors that led to the current bidding.
If the Malaysian tycoon succeeds to privatize Guoco fully, then he would also acquire other businesses, such as a 15% share of Bank of East Asia. Further holdings include GuocoLand, Hong Leong Capital, and Hong Leong Bank and Hong Leong Financial Group and a whole global web of tangled interests.
Guoco Group also owns 74.5% of Rank Group, which has recently received the green light to become the UK’s largest casino operator, while shedding most of its online casino business around the same time.
That approval by the authorities meant that soon two Malaysian companies (Guoco and Genting) will own around 75% of the UK brick-and-mortar casino market.