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SkyCity takeover seemed 'serious prospect'

MATT NIPPERT
Last updated 14:37 23/10/2012

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The former managing director of SkyCity Entertainment Group has told the Auckland District Court of how an allegedly fictitious takeover of his company seemed to be "more than gossip".

Evan Davies, who served as managing director of SkyCity between 1995 and 2007, gave evidence today in the trial of Loizos Michaels who is charged with 31 counts of fraud. Michaels denies the charges.

Davies said he often had contact with Stephen Lyttelton, the acting chief executive of the Christchurch Casino, through SkyCity's shareholding in the company.

The court earlier heard Lyttelton claiming Michaels had induced him to quit his job at the Christchurch Casino in mid-2007 and work on a takeover of SkyCity allegedly backed by Macau-based gambling giant Melco.

Davies said the talk of takeover had reached him in his Auckland office. "It seemed to be more than gossip. There was a suggestion that people thought that it was a serious prospect," he said.

Davies said Lyttelton and his former deputy at the Christchurch Casino were said to be backed by Melco.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Peter Kaye, he said other prominent figures were also said to be involved in the takeover.

"The suggestion was that Gerry Brownlee and Peter Goodfellow might be involved in that as well," Davies said.

Cabinet Minister Brownlee and National Party President Goodfellow were both directors of New Zealand Casino Service, a company the court has heard was formed as part of the takeover plot.

The pair resigned their board position soon after joining.

The trial continues.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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