Mogul K.T. Lim and Genting Malaysia are gradually progressing in their attempt to buy up and take private Empire Resorts, parent company of Sullivan County’s Resorts World Catskills casino, according to recent financial filings.

Lim, who’s owned a controlling stake in Empire via his family trust, Kien Huat Realty III Ltd, has publicly said he’s trying to save Empire, which owns the Town of Thompson casino and Monticello Raceway.

Lim wants to consolidate Empire’s ownership in a holding company controlled by him and Genting Malaysia, a transnational gaming giant.

Doing so could ease potential Empire negotiations with debt holders for a prepackaged bankruptcy to cut the company's $487.6 million of long-term debt, according to Lim’s past public statements and Empire’s financial filings.

Filed from mid-August to this week, Empire’s most recent Securities and Exchange Commission papers include an Empire board announcement of a merger agreement with the holding company Hercules Topco LLC.

Hercules Topco is controlled by Lim's family trust, Kien Huat Realty III and Genting Malaysia. Together, Kien Huat and Genting own about 86 percent of Empire.

The merger agreement between Empire and Hercules – struck in August and detailed more by Empire this week – proposes making Hercules the parent company of Empire.

The merger is contingent upon Empire shareholders’ approval, on a yet-to-be-announced meeting date, plus other potential approvals, including from the state Gaming Commission.

The merger plan includes terms that could make it easier for the Lim family trust and Genting to buy out Empire’s shareholders.

Those holding common stock would be entitled to $9.74 in cash per share upon the merger’s completion. Until recently, Lim's family trust owned 86 percent of Empire, and Genting was a separate company.

But in early August, Lim's family trust and Genting teamed up, reaching an agreement to create a holding company, which agreed to buy nearly half of the Lim family’s Empire stake. Now, they're looking to buy the rest of Empire.

In other recent Empire news, last week, Kevin Kline submitted his resignation as the casino’s chief operating officer and general manager, according to SEC filings. Empire did not offer a reason but stated that Kline left in good standing.

daxelrod@th-record.com