8 July 1999: Accor is to make its debut in Australia's casino sector
following a joint venture agreement with Casinos Austria Group (Casinos
Austria). The first transaction of the joint venture will be the
recapitalisation of the Reef Casino Trust.
Accor, the world's largest hotel and tourism services company, regards
casinos as a strategic growth area offering real synergies with its tourism
activities. Accor currently manages nine casinos in France, with two
further concessions in France recently awarded to the company. Accor
Casinos also runs the Dragonara Casino in Malta.
Accor Asia Pacific Chairman, David Baffsky, said Accor was delighted
joining with such a well-established international group as Casinos Austria
and looked forward to working with them on other hotel casino opportunities.
"Casinos Austria is very well established in the casino industry,
represented in Australia, Europe, Africa, Middle East and the Americas. We
are confident that with Accor's expertise in hotel management and tourism
services, the partnership has great potential for future development," said
Mr Baffsky said that a significant change to the management of the Reef
Casino complex would be the joint operation of the hotel and casino.
Previously, the casino was managed by Casinos Austria, while the hotel was
managed by a separate operator.
"The decision to jointly manage the hotel and casino will be of fundamental
benefit to the future operation of the overall complex," said Mr Baffsky.
"The two components are intrinsically linked in terms of their operation,
and the integration of the complex's operations and marketing will help
maximise revenue and profitability of the Resort as a whole."
Earlier this year, Casinos Austria AG announced that it would arrange
funding of approximately A$70 million into the Trust through the combination
of a placement to Casinos Austria or its nominees of new units in the Trust,
an underwritten rights issue by the Trust and a new debt facility. The
recapitalisation proposal is subject to approval from government bodies,
ASX, ASIC, Foreign Investment Review Board and Unitholders of the Reef
If approvals are granted, it is anticipated that the new joint venture
take over management of the complex from November. It is Accor's intention
to rebrand the hotel to its luxury Hotel Sofitel brand.
The Reef Hotel Casino opened in Cairns in January 1996. The Casino
total gaming floor of 7,000 square metres, with 45 gaming tables and 540
machines currently in operation. The Casino provides a gaming room and Club
Privé gaming room for high-stake players.
The 5-star hotel is Cairns' most prestigious hotel, with a total of
suites. The complex also includes a function room for up to 250 delegates,
three restaurants, business centre and leisure facilities.
Accor Managing Director for Australia/New Zealand and the South Pacific,
Michael Issenberg, added: "Accor brings to the Reef Casino and Hotel vast
experience in tourism, being the largest hotel operator in Australia
generally and Queensland specifically. We also have a strong presence
throughout Asia, the main inbound source area for the casino and hotel.
"We have demonstrated our ability to succeed in the Cairns market, which
been one of Australia's most challenging markets in recent years. We
currently have three hotels in the Cairns region - Novotel Palm Cove Resort,
The Oasis Resort Cairns, and Mercure Harbourside - and recently both the
Novotel and The Oasis received awards of excellence in the Tropical North
Queensland tourism awards. Novotel Palm Cove Resort was one of the
outstanding performers in the four-star market during 1998.
"We believe that while the Cairns market has been under great pressure
recent years, particularly due to the Asian recession, there are positive
signs of a revival. Already there have been optimistic forecasts for modest
improvements in many of the key Asian economies and the Australian domestic
economy continues to grow strongly. Tropical North Queensland offers some
of the world's finest natural tourist attractions and with the Olympic year
ahead of us, there will be significant increases in foreign visitors who
will combine a visit to Cairns with their stay in Sydney.
"We also believe there is potential for growth in the conference and
incentive markets, which will directly and indirectly benefit the hotel and
casino, and moves by companies such as Chevron Oil to relocate their offices
to Cairns will help strengthen the corporate travel base in the region.
"The rebranding of the hotel to Sofitel - one of the world's most
distinctive luxury brands - will be a major asset for the Reef Casino Hotel,
which will become part of a network of over 120 Sofitel hotels globally.
The brand is represented in most of the major countries of the world, with
the new flagship Sofitel Le Faubourg opening in Paris in May and new
Sofitels under construction in cities such as New York, Chicago, London and
Accor is the world's largest hotel and tourism company, with over 2,700
hotels, travel agencies, car rental, and other tourism services under its
management. Accor Asia Pacific is the largest hotel operator in the Asia
Pacific region with 138 hotels, including 62 in Australia under the brands
Sofitel, Novotel, Mercure and Ibis.
Further information: Peter Hook Tel: (61-2) 93670860 Fax: (61-2) 93670897