Asian casino investor and developer Melco International Development Ltd, led by casino entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured), has confirmed that a consortium involving the firm submitted a final-stage bid for the single casino licence on offer in the Republic of Cyprus.
It was the only such bid the authorities had received by Wednesday’s deadline, the government of the ethnic Greek portion of the Mediterranean island confirmed that day.
Melco International stated in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange: “On October 5, 2016, a consortium comprising the company, Hard Rock [International Inc, via Seminole HR Holdings LLC] and CPZL [Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Ltd] submitted its detailed proposal for the development and operation of an integrated casino resort in Cyprus to the Cyprus government, in response to its request for proposal.”
It added: “The tender process envisages that the Cyprus government’s decision in relation to the award of a licence to develop and operate the [casino resort] will be announced in the fourth quarter of 2016.”
The other two shortlisted candidates – Hong Kong-listed casino investor NagaCorp Ltd and Philippines-based casino investor Bloomberry Resorts Corp – had previously separately confirmed they would not make a final bid.
The consortium featuring Melco International said in a press release issued on Wednesday following its final submission: “Capitalising on Melco International’s unique experience in creating the most spectacular integrated resorts in Asia, as well as Hard Rock’s proven track record of delivering differentiated hospitality driven experiences across the globe, the consortium looks forward to collaborating with the Cyprus government to establish a world-class integrated casino resort that will be beneficial to the economy and tourism of Cyprus.”
The consortium partners
Melco International is now the single largest shareholder of Asian casino operator and investor Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, after James Packer’s Crown Resorts Ltd decided earlier this year to reduce its stake in Melco Crown to 27.4 percent. Melco Crown has casino interests in Macau and the Philippines. Melco International also has a share of a casino investment in the Russian Far East.
Hard Rock has a total of 202 venues in 71 countries, including 11 casinos. The company owns and manages some of the properties, while others are run in partnership with third parties. The firm is already a business partner of Melco International in Macau, via a Hard Rock hotel and casino facility at the City of Dreams Macau casino resort, owned and managed by Melco Crown.
Cyprus Phasouri is a member of the CNS Group. The latter is a Cyprus-based conglomerate with interests in real estate, telecommunications, dairy produce, farming, trade, and mining.
“The [Cyprus] government welcomes the fact that two colossi in the integrated casino resort sector [Melco International and Hard Rock], with vast experience in the construction and management of projects across the world, have chosen Cyprus to enter the European market,” the local government said in a Wednesday statement quoted by the Cyprus Mail.
Any final proposal for the Cyprus casino licence should include at least 500 luxury hotel rooms, 1,000 gaming machines, and 100 gaming tables, according to the specially drafted local legislation. The winning bidder will also be allowed to build a satellite casino and three slot parlours in the country.
The winner of the final round of the bidding contest would be awarded a 30-year casino licence. After 15 years of exclusivity for the winner, competing licences might then be issued to other parties, according to local media reports.
The original deadline to submit the final bids for the single licence was to have been July 5, but it was extended to October 5, according to local media reports.
The time extension was granted amid opposition from the consortium involving Melco International.
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Amount that each Macau casino operator paid for the circa six-month extension of their respective contract