Melco International Development Ltd and its unit MelcoLot Ltd on Wednesday said that a casino project they planned – with other partners – in Georgia in Eastern Europe would not go ahead.
“Although every effort has been made to negotiate… on the lease terms, the parties are unable to reach an agreement on terms satisfactory to MelcoLot,” said the joint announcement, referring to a lease on land wholly owned by Dhabi Group Georgia LLC.
In March last year, the Melco entities – led by Asian casino developer Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured) – had said they were “at an advanced stage of establishing” a casino project in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.
MelcoLot first announced in November 2014 its plans for a casino in the former Soviet Union republic.
Wednesday’s joint filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange said that – as a result of a failure to reach agreement with the landowner of the proposed site – the casino project and a related conditional share subscription deal “will not now proceed.”
The conditional subscription agreement dated 20 November 2014 involved MelcoLot, Express Wealth Enterprise Ltd, Firich Enterprises Co Ltd and Oz Gaming Georgia LLC.
Firich Enterprises is a Taiwan-listed maker of electronic gaming machines. It is also putting money into Tigre de Cristal – an existing Lawrence Ho-backed casino scheme near Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East.
Express Wealth is a wholly owned subsidiary of MelcoLot, and was set up to hold the licence for the Georgia casino scheme.
“The Melco group will continue to explore with Firich on appropriate opportunities for future commercial cooperation,” said Wednesday’s filing.
Melco International Development is also an investor in Asian casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. Mr Ho is co-chairman and chief executive of the latter company.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China