Macau junket investor Imperial Pacific International Holdings Ltd said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that the total development cost for a casino project on the Pacific island of Saipan (pictured) is now estimated at about US$7.1 billion.
The firm – an investor in the profit stream of Macau junket firm Hengsheng Group – on Wednesday announced the latest business plan for the project, saying it expects the first phase of the scheme to be completed by 2016.
Previous filings by the company said the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) required bidders to pledge “a minimum” of US$2 billion in order to secure an exclusive casino licence. In previous filings, the company also said it had pledged to spend US$3.14 billion in the project.
In Wednesday’s filing, however, the company announced a more than twofold increase in investment for the project and said it plans to build and operate “a town hotel and an integrated resort with gaming facilities in five phases”.
“It is expected that construction work would commence in early 2015 and the town hotel would gradually open from 2016 onwards, followed by the launch of the integrated resort in 2018,” Imperial Pacific said.
The company said it plans to finance the development costs by equity and/or debt financings, however it “has not yet formulated any concrete fund raising plan”.
The scheme is expected to have 1,600 gaming tables and 3,500 slot machines, once it is fully built. It will provide about 4,250 rooms and 300 villas, according to the statement.
The Lottery Commission of CNMI confirmed on July 15 that Best Sunshine International Ltd, a subsidiary of Imperial Pacific, had been awarded the licence subject to “terms and conditions” being agreed.
Imperial Pacific said it is “actively looking for quality land” on Saipan for the development of the project. “The applicant [Best Sunshine] and Imperial Pacific have recently entered into an agreement in respect of leases of certain parcels of land for the development phases 1 and 2,” it said in Wednesday’s filing.
The firm announced last week an eighth delay in giving formal details to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange over the transaction. It set a new deadline of October 10 for the relevant disclosures.
On August 22, Imperial Pacific warned the Hong Kong bourse that it expected to record a significant loss for the six months to June 30, 2014.
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”I do not believe that this event [the collapse of a under-construction building in Sihanoukville] will slow down the issuance of [gaming] licences. Market forces will probably dictate the process as developers evaluate projected future demand for gaming in the region”
Senior partner at business consultancy Global Market Advisors