Star Entertainment CEO cancels Macau trip after Crown arrests in China

October 24, 2016 5:48 AM EDT

The logo of Australia's top casino operator Crown Resorts adorns a fence surrounding the Crown Perth hotel and casino complex in Western Australia, October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Bunch


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By Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's second-largest casino company, Star Entertainment Group Ltd (NYSE: SGR), said its CEO canceled a trip to Hong Kong and Macau last week after employees of peer Crown Resorts Ltd were held in China for suspected "gambling crimes".

Chief Executive Matt Bekier decided to stay in Australia to address questions from major investors about the impact of the detainments on Star's business, a Star spokesman said, adding that the cancellation was not due to security concerns and that the visit would be rescheduled.

The detainment of 18 Crown staff, three of whom are Australian nationals including its head of international VIP gambling, has been widely seen as a crackdown on gambling and has sparked major concern about the impact on local casinos which rely on wealthy Chinese gamblers.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Sky News television she has been informed that the detained employees were being treated "appropriately" by Chinese authorities.

Crown said on Thursday that no charges had been laid against its staff.

Shares in Crown have tumbled 18 percent since last week in the wake of the detainments, while shares in Star Entertainment are down 12 percent.

New Zealand casino company Skycity Entertainment Group Ltd (NYSE: SKC) has seen its stock plunge 19 percent after saying that its business was likely to be adversely affected by the arrests.

Bekier is due to speak to shareholders at the Star Entertainment's annual general meeting on Friday. He makes quarterly visits to Hong Kong to see the company's joint venture partners, Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group Ltd <1929.HK> and Far East Consortium International Ltd <0035.HK>, the spokesman said.

(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing)



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