The government of Vietnam has formally re-issued an investment certificate to Asian Coast Development Ltd. (ACDL), the Vancouver-based company behind the stalled integrated resort-casino project on the country’s Ho Tram Strip. The move comes just one month after ACDL’s Ho Tram partner, MGM Resorts International, washed its hands of the project, citing the decision in November by a consortium of Vietnamese banks to suspend the project’s $175m credit facility. The banks had grown concerned when ACDL’s investment certificate was withdrawn after the company reportedly failed to meet a number of construction milestones.
On Thursday, ACDL CEO Lloyd Nathan issued a statement saying Vietnam had granted all of the company’s requested amendments to its investment certificate. It appears doubtful that the announcement might persuade MGM to reconsider its departure, leaving ACDL still in the hunt for a partner to manage the facilities. Nathan told GamblingCompliance that ACDL was “exploring several alternatives, all of them positive.” Nathan’s immediate aim is to work with the banks to restore the withdrawn line of credit, but he offered no specifics as to when the resort might open for business.
In addition to the financial struggles, the Ho Tram project has been plagued by regulatory uncertainty regarding the government’s stance on junket operators and whether its gaming floor will remain off-limits to Vietnamese citizens. In February, this uncertainty led US regional casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment, which holds a 26% stake in ACDL, to warn investors that it had written down $25m of its $110m ACDL investment.
The Ho Tram project is being built on a 164-hectare beachfront property in Bo Ria-Vung Tau province, about two hours distance from Ho Chi Minh City. Phase 1, which features a five-star 541-room hotel, has been completed. A second 559-room tower is presently under construction, as is an 18-hole Greg Norman-designed golf course.