TPG May Be Sole Possible Bidder for NZ's Sky City

Private equity firm TPG is the only possible bidder for New Zealand casino operator Sky City Entertainment Group after a deadline for due diligence passed, the Dominion Post newspaper said on Wednesday.

Citing no sources, the paper said private equity group CVC Asia Pacific had withdrawn its interest in Sky City, which put itself up for sale in September and which could be worth up to NZ$2.9 billion (US$2.2 billion).

The paper added however that TPG was having difficulty raising capital for any bid. TPG could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sky City said in September it had received an approach about a possible takeover and has since said it had further expressions of interest and expected at least one of those to result in financial and commercial due diligence.

Sky City spokeswoman Joanne Bleasdale said she could not comment on whether the company had received any bids. "Any proposals received by the board will be considered at its December board meeting and the board expects to be in a position to update shareholders following that meeting," she said.

The board meeting will be held on December 6 and 7.

Analysts have said a private equity bidder could offer up to NZ$5.75 a share, while a trade bidder may go as high as NZ$6.40, valuing the company at NZ$2.9 billion ($2.2 billion).

Shares in Sky City, which has a virtual monopoly on casinos in New Zealand and has two establishments in Australia, last traded down 3.8 percent at NZ$5.00.

Sources have said TPG, which teamed up with Apollo Management to buy the world's largest casino operator Harrah's Enterprise Inc for $17 billion last year, has expressed interest in buying Sky City for cash at a significant premium to its then market price of NZ$4.33.