Sam Arnaout outbids Gravanis brothers for Canberra casino

Sam Arnaout has outbid veteran hoteliers, the Gravanis brothers, in a bid to acquire Casino Canberra from Aquis Entertainment. 

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Arnaout has an estimated AU$5bn (US$3.3bn) hospitality empire and has now added Aquis’ asset to his portfolio of casinos. Arnaout has other hotel and casino locations in Sydney, Newcastle and the Gold Coast.  

Majority-owned by Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung, Acquis accepted a revised offer of AU$63m from Arnaout’s capital investment fund, Iris Capital. 

Per the deal, Arnaout will acquire all shares in the Aquis subsidiary that operates the Canberra casino. 

Arnaout’s ownership of the casino location did not come easy but was subject to a bidding war with hotel moguls Bill and Mario Gravanis.  

The brothers, who own Oscars Hotels, had upped their offer from AU$52m to AU$58.2m in an attempt to outmuscle Arnaout.  

Iris Capital subsequently raised its offer to AU$60m and AU$63m to secure the casino property and operating business.  

Casino Canberra had been struggling to pay off an AU$33m loan from its majority-owner Fung after struggling to recover revenues following Covid-19 lockdowns and trading restrictions. 

Iris’ investment in Casino Canberra has taken its monthly expenditure on assets to AU$220m after it purchased Syndey’s Strathfield Hotel for AU$80m, alongside five properties in Alice Springs for a combined AU$75m. 

It also plans to spend AU$100m on redeveloping Alice Springs’ Lasseters Hotel Casino. 

Arnaout said: “We are excited about the opportunity to acquire Casino Canberra and look forward to working collaboratively with the Aquis team in the future.”

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