Casino investor NagaCorp Ltd said in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Wednesday that it would not, after all, proceed to the final bid stage for a single casino licence in the Republic of Cyprus.
It said the decision was “in the best interests of shareholders”.
“After careful review and given all the latest information available to us… the company will not be participating in the RFP [request for proposal] and the decision made is in the best interest of our shareholders and the company,” noted NagaCorp.
The statement added: “The company shall continue to evaluate and pursue other business opportunities.”
NagaCorp had been told in March by the Cyprus authorities that it had been shortlisted for the permit.
Its decision to withdraw means that only one of the three candidates originally earmarked for the licence offered by the Mediterranean holiday island will go forward to the final stage of bidding. That is a consortium involving Melco International Development Ltd, led by gaming entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung; alongside Seminole HR Holdings LLC, owner of the Hard Rock International brand; and local conglomerate Cyprus Phasouri (Zakaki) Ltd.
Last week, Philippines-based casino investor Bloomberry Resorts Corp told GGRAsia by email that it would not continue to the final phase of bidding.
In June media reports in Cyprus had suggested Bloomberry and NagaCorp had asked separately for more time to reach agreements for land acquisition and to deal with official paperwork.
But last week two people with direct knowledge of the process separately told GGRAsia that NagaCorp would indeed proceed to the final bid stage in Cyprus, which is due on October 5. GGRAsia understood from the sources that NagaCorp had in fact identified a site, and was in the process of completing due diligence on it.
This week Melco International confirmed in an email to GGRAsia that it and consortium partners would move on to the final bid stage on October 5.
A final proposal for the Cyprus licence must 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.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings