DALLAS TheStreet) -- A Hong Kong-based conglomerate has purchased 7.3% of the outstanding common shares of American Airlines ( AMR).

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Aug. 11, various subsidiaries of the Hong Leong/Guoco Group disclosed the purchase of 24.4 million shares of the carrier.

Guoco Group Ltd., traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is an investment company that, according to its website, has "the vision of achieving long term sustainable returns for its shareholders and creating prime capital value."

The firm's subsidiaries and investments are principally located in Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and the United Kingdom. Its four core businesses involve principal investment, property holding, hospitality and leisure and financial services.

The group recently purchased a a 41% controlling interest in Rank Group, a London casino operator.

It is controlled by London-Malaysian billionaire Quek Leng Chan, described last month in London's The Guardian as "no stranger to the gambling halls of Britain, (who) over many years has earned renown as one of the casino world's most fearless 'whales' -- the industry term for super-high-rollers."

The newspaper said that "as GuocoLeisure, part of his sprawling Guoco empire, approaches the end of a controversial takeover of a controlling interest in Rank Group, Quek has finally secured his long-held ambition to win a powerful position on the other side of the UK's roulette tables."

Rank holds 47 of the 187 casino licenses currently granted by London's Gambling Commission, as well as operating more than 100 bingo halls. Guoco previously held five dormant UK casino licenses, the Guardian said.

An American Airlines spokesperson declined to comment.

--Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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