* Genting's Malaysia gaming unit profit flat year on year
* Sees Asian premium players market to remain challenging
* Shares closed 1.16 pct lower prior to earnings release (Add context, details)
KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Reuters) - Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd on Thursday posted a 24.6 percent rise in first-quarter net profit, partly driven by gains on the disposal of financial assets.
Net profit for January-March climbed to 620 million ringgit ($170.28 million) from 497.5 million ringgit in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue shed 6.9 percent to 4.37 billion ringgit.
Genting, a plantations-to-gaming conglomerate controlled by Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay, has been expanding its gaming and hospitality businesses overseas but has said its Malaysia casino unit Genting Malaysia Bhd is looking to sell its stake in cruise ship operator Genting Hong Kong Ltd .
Genting Malaysia reported a 1.06 percent rise in net profit in the January-March period to 362.1 million ringgit, partly driven by a one-off gain arising from a waiver of debt.
Genting controls Genting Singapore Plc, which reported on May that 14 net profit fell 43 percent in the first quarter, due to weakness in the premium gaming market, which the company expects to persist.
"Regional gaming operators in Macau and Singapore continue to see a slowdown in gaming revenues as the Asian premium players market remains challenging," Genting Malaysia said in a statement.
Shares in Genting closed down 1.16 percent at 8.50 ringgit prior to the earnings release. The stock has fallen 12.07 percent over the past year, underperforming the benchmark index's 6.02 percent decline.
For the full stock exchange filing, please click: bit.ly/1HO5fLb ($1 = 3.6410 ringgit) (Reporting by Yantoultra Ngui; Editing by Alison Williams)