The competition for a single casino license in Cyprus is down to one candidate, according to a filing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Wednesday by NagaCorp Ltd., stating that it would not be proceeding to the final bid stage (pdf).
The Cambodian casino operator put an abrupt end to recent rumors that it was still in the running for the first-ever casino resort in the Republic of Cyprus when it joined Philippine casino developer Bloomberry Resorts Corporation, which last week reportedly told news agency GGRAsia by email that it would not be proceeding to the final phase of bidding. NagaCorp said, “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,” according to the report. The statement went on to say, “The company shall continue to evaluate and pursue other business opportunities.”
On March 15, NagaCorp was told by the Cyprus authorities that it, along with Bloomberry Resorts Corporation and 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., had been shortlisted for the permit. NagaCorp’s decision to pull out of the race means that only the latter will proceed to the final stage of the bidding. The three were among eight who initially expressed interest in the tender process, the winner of which would be awarded a 30-year license with the possibility of competing licenses being issued in 15 years.
Media reports in June in Cyprus suggested that separately Bloomberry and NagaCorp had requested an extension to reach land acquisition agreements and to deal with official paperwork. However, last week the news agency was told by two individuals with direct knowledge of the process that NagaCorp would indeed be proceeding to the final bid stage, which was originally due on July 5, but the deadline was extended to October 5. The news agency understood from the sources that a site had in fact been identified by NagaCorp and that it was moving forward, according to the report.
In keeping with the specially drafted local legislation, a minimum of 500 luxury hotel rooms, 100 gaming tables, and 1,000 gaming machines must be included in the final proposal for the Cyprus license. In addition, the winning bidder will be allowed to build three slot parlors and a satellite casino in the country.