Lawrence Ho’s pursuit of a casino license in the Spanish city of Barcelona may be held up.
Ho controlled companies Melco International Development Ltd. and MelcoLot Ltd., in its filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange last week, announced that the second-phase tender process for its bid for a casino license near Barcelona may face delay.
The possible delay is due to the Catalan government’s uncertainty in announcing the conclusion of an urban planning master plan involving the reorganization of the environment of the tourist recreational center of Vila-Seca and Salou. A regional election in Catalonia in September 2015 had not been able to produce a single majority party or ruling coalition. As such, there is uncertainty regarding the outcome of previous consultations for the casino license.
According to the filing, the Catalan government proposed the master plan in the third quarter of 2015 for public consultation until December 1 of last year. A definitive master plan was supposed to be completed within three months after the end of the public consultation phase. Applications were to be submitted within one month after this plan was published.
The result of the second-phase tender for the Spanish casino license was also expected to be announced in the second quarter of 2016.
The company said that since the tender process is dependent upon the approval of the Urban Planning Master Plan, the uncertainties might put back the process.
In 2014, Melco International filed two bids to build and run one of the six casinos of the $6b BCN World resort in Catalan. One was an individual bid through its subsidiary Melco Property Development and another via its Melcolot subsidiary in a joint venture with Veremonte Group.
Melcolot announced that it had terminated its partnership with Veremonte “due to the lack of basis of further cooperation.” The announcement came after Catalan Business Minister Felip Puig announced that Veremonte has dropped its plan for BCN World.
Melco International continued with its independent bid via Melco Property and eventually made an agreement for Melcolot to purchase 99% of the issued share capital of Melco Property for HK$502.92 million. One of the conditions for the deal is that Melco Property be granted a license to run a casino in BCN World.
The deal was described as the “best available platform in the current circumstances for the MelcoLot Group to continue participating in the tender.”