Kien Huat Realty, the Malaysian real estate company and international casino resorts developer that is the largest shareholder in Empire Resorts Inc., the Monticello racetrack operator and developer of Resorts World Catskills, has acquired an additional 1.38 million shares of Empire stock in exchange for an approximately $36.2 million promissory note held by the Genting Berhad company.
The exchange, announced on Thursday by Empire, was a condition of a $20 million loan the Sullivan County company obtained from the New York branch of Bangkok Bank PCL to finance its additional $9.9 million equity investment in the subsidiary developing the $1.2 billion gaming and resort complex under construction in the town of Thompson. The exchange was based on the volume-weighted average price of $26.21 for Empire’s common stock during the preceding 30-day period.
Empire Resorts officials said the remaining balance of the Bangkok Bank loan will be available for the general corporate purposes of the company.
Kien Huat also agreed to make available a $20 million loan to be used by Empire only for repaying the Bangkok Bank loan if Empire is not otherwise able to repay.
With the exchange deal, Kien Huat extended for an additional year its agreement not to take private the NASDAQ-traded Empire Resorts without the prior approval of the majority of Empire’s minority shareholders and a majority of the disinterested directors of Empire. Empire officials said the going-private restriction now ends “on or about” February 2020.
Empire Resorts officials announced earlier this month that the opening date for the casino would be moved up to mid-February instead of March 1. The early opening date will allow the casino to open on time for the Chinese Lunar New Year, responding to “global anticipation” for the casino, as Empire Resorts President and CEO Ryan Eller described it.
The town of Thompson granted the casino a conditional certificate of occupancy on Thursday, which will allow Empire Resorts to train employees on site. Town Supervisor William Rieber Jr. said the permit was “crucial to getting the casino ready for the business” by its projected opening date Feb. 16. The casino hosted December job fairs in the region to help find employees to fill 1,400 positions by opening day.
Staff writer Ryan Deffenbaugh contributed to this report.