articles | 01 October 2016

Cyprus' casino bidder thinks big

The only remaining bidder for Cyprus' casino resort has big plans for investment that should create thousands of jobs and revive the western part of Limassol, the press has discovered.

The consortium comprising Macau’s Melco International, Hard Rock International and Cyprus Phassouri (Zakaki) is moving full speed ahead to put the final touches to its casino resort plan that it will submit to the government by the October 5, 2016 deadline next week.

Following the withdrawal of Cambodia’s NagaCorp Ltd earlier this week, Melco-Hard Rock consortium will be the only bidder.

A government source told the press that it does not have an issue with a single bidder as such.

“The important thing now is that the final proposal matches the criteria set,” he said.

In an earlier interview with Phileleftheros, Chief Executive Officer of Hard Rock International, Hamish Dodds, suggested his camp would more than meet the government’s criteria.

“Our project will surpass the government’s expectations,” Dodds said.

“State income will increase, thousands of jobs will be created and, once implemented, this project will put Cyprus on the global tourism map,” he added.

Limassol plans

“The consortium has great plans for Limassol and Cyprus,” one insider told the press.

The plan is to transform the area west of Limassol and give a much-needed face-lift to Ladies Mile beach, an area Limassol mayor Andreas Christou described as under-developed.

The local authorities are already planning to invest more than €22 million as part of the strategic development plan that will see an extension of the city’s seafront pedestrian road.

“The casino and infrastructure improvements will transform Limassol’s most neglected area,” the insider said.

According to the tender requirements, the consortium’s final proposal for the licence must include at least 500 luxury hotel rooms, 1,000 gaming machines and 100 gaming tables.

The winning bidder will also be allowed to build a satellite casino and three slot parlours in the country.

NagaCorp withdraws

The Melco-Hard Rock consortium became the only bidder recently, when Cambodia-based NagaCorp Ltd announced to the Hong Kong stock exchange that it had withdrawn interest in the casino bid.

“The Company will not be participating in the request for proposal offer and the decision made is in the best interest of our shareholders and the Company,” NagaCorp said in a statement.

This followed an announcement a week earlier by the Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon Jr, owner of Bloomberry Resorts, that his company would not be submitting a final offer on the grounds that local land was too expensive.

The company had held detailed talks with two major landlords in Larnaca and one in Paphos, according to press sources. The company was planning an investment of €350m-€500m and, until Wednesday, was in talks with a landowner in the Mackenzie area in Larnaca.

NagaCorp is thought to have withdrawn because it was not confident of winning. Like a good professional gambler, it knew when to cut its losses and fold.

Source: InCyprus

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