Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd – a company controlled by Asian gaming entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, and lead developer of the Tigre de Cristal casino resort (pictured) in the Russian Far East – says it has a non-binding agreement with Kangwon Land Inc in South Korea for “potential areas of cooperation and strategic partnership”.
It includes a “possible Korean contractor and Korean project finance for phase two,” of Tigre de Cristal, and possible “project finance investment in phase two [of Tigre de Cristal] by Kangwon Land”.
The memorandum of understanding also covers “potential investment in future investment projects of Kangwon Land” by Summit Ascent; and “other direct or cross holding investment as appropriate”.
Summit Ascent gave the news to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a filing carrying Friday’s date and published on Monday.
Kangwon Land operates what is currently the only casino resort in South Korea where that country’s nationals are allowed to gamble. Kangwon Land reported net income of KRW123.7 billion (US$110.1 million) for the second quarter of 2016, up by 27.1 percent from the prior-year period.
Tigre de Cristal is currently the only casino in operation in the Primorye Integrated Entertainment Zone, a casino development area located 50 kilometres (31 miles) from Russia’s Pacific port of Vladivostok.
The possible link-up with Kangwon Land also includes “potential hotel management and operation” of one of Summit Ascent’s hotels in phase two of Tigre de Cristal, “by Kangwon Land or its designated hotel management company”.
Tigre de Cristal had a soft launch in October last year and an official one the following month. The scheme opened with 121 hotel rooms and 321 slot machines, 33 mass tables and 35 VIP tables.
In September 2015, a representative of Summit Ascent told GGRAsia that the first phase of Tigre de Cristal had a capital budget of US$172 million and there was a commitment by Mr Ho and his partners to spend “up to” US$700 million in total, including a second phase – which at that stage was mooted to open in 2018.
The newly-announced memorandum of understanding between Summit Ascent and Kangwon Land also covers: a “training exchange programme”, including possible exchange of gaming staff between the two venues. It additionally foresees: a “mutual marketing programme”, including “proprietary travel agency cooperation; cruise line routing between Kangwon Land Casino and Tigre de Cristal; and charter flights between Kangwon Land Casino and Tigre de Cristal”.
Other areas of potential cooperation are a: “joint or sole golf course, clubhouse, and sporting club development; and duty free shopping in phase two” of Tigre de Cristal.
In May a unit of Melco International Development Ltd, a firm led by Mr Ho, said separately it was to provide consultancy services to a casino that is “to be developed” over a period of three years on Jeju Island in South Korea.
Melco International is now the single largest shareholder of Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, after James Packer’s Crown Resorts Ltd decided to reduce its stake in Melco Crown to 27.4 percent.
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”The project [in South Korea] continues apace in terms of detailed design, where we have now reached the 90 percent threshold”
Chief executive of U.S. tribal casino operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment