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Casino Executives Play Cards Close to Chest
The shutters have gone down at Christchurch Casino with both sides of
a bitter boardroom battle saying little after a showdown meeting.
The board met yesterday for the first time since a row broke out between
the casino’s two biggest shareholders, Skyline Enterprises and British
gambling business Aspinall.
Skyline and casino chairman Barry Thomas last year had Aspinall
representative Arthur Pitcher removed from the board after discovering
the UK company had been in secret talks to sell its 41 per cent stake,
which is thought to be worth at least $92 million, to rival Sky City
The Queenstown businessman accused Sky City of trying to muscle in
through the back door on his casino, and has warned any potential
purchasers they face a rough ride if they want to buy in.
Aspinall reacted angrily and has had Mr Pitcher reinstated on the board,
insisting it will sell to whoever pays the market price.
Mr Thomas had been keen to put a proposal that would see Skyline
increase its stake by taking another 15 per cent of the casino, but
Aspinall had knocked the idea back.
Aspinall director Martyn Kennedy flew into Christchurch for the meeting
and was on his way back home yesterday without commenting.
Mr Thomas also said little after the meeting.
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