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Seven bidders for Osaka Integrated Resort licence

Mon, Jun 3, 12:13pm by Staff Writer

Osaka City mayor Ichiro Matsui has just teased the potential casino partners the city has lined up for a potential integrated resort bid.

Calvin Ayre is reporting that seven operators participated in a recent request for concept process initiated by the city.

Of those seven, Matsui said that five were “top” overseas firms in a May 30 media briefing.

The seven operators Matsui referenced weren’t named, but the number lines up nicely with seven operators who showed interest at the recent Japan IR Expo held in Osaka.

Those companies were: Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, Genting Singapore Ltd, Las Vegas Sands Corp, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts Ltd and an “Osaka local alliance”.

Matsui didn’t really have anything else to share about the RFC or the resorts interested in setting up in Osaka, but his recent election as Osaka Mayor continues his party’s platform of aggressively pushing to set up an IR before 2025.

Analysts don’t believe they’ll be able to hit that target, citing a slow and conservative approach of the Japanese government in issuing the licences.

Even if the licences are given out late this year, it would be a crunch to get a $10 billion resort built by 2025, when analysts expect it would take as much as five years to construct such a resort.

Melco moving up after Crown acquisition

One of the operators listed who might be moving up the ranks as a potential winner of the licence is Melco.

Originally in the running with resorts in Macau and Manila, their recent announcement that they had bought a 20 per cent share of Crown Resorts might have moved them into that category of top overseas firms.

Several analysts believe the expanded portfolio of Lawrence Ho’s company makes them a much more attractive candidate as an ambitious player in the global market.

Four brokerage firms interviewed by GGR Asia all saw Melco’s move for Crown as a positive one that makes them look better in the Japanese government’s eyes.

“While Melco will utilize some debt capacity to fund its share purchase, we do not see this as an impediment in Melco’s Japan bid,” Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd wrote.

“In fact, owning an Australia operation may help enhance Melco’s standing in the bid process.”

Nomura Instinet LLC noted that by expanding their global presence, Melco has made themselves a more attractive option for one of the three IR licences.

Roth Capital LLC noted that by expanding their global presence, Melco has made themselves a more attractive option for one of the three IR licences, writing, “we view Melco’s transition toward a fully international entertainment resort company as helpful to its stock multiple and beneficial for its competitive bid for a casino concession in Japan.”

The Macquarie Group didn’t have anything to say about Japan specifically, but they noted that this purchase might box out other potential suitors of Crown Resorts.

Sanford C Bernstein concluded that Melco would eventually move to take a controlling stake in Crown Resorts saying, “this may occur through several transactions over time following regulatory approvals. We would hope to see a full acquisition of Crown (at the right price) in the future to limit complexity of Melco (something that has historically plagued the company).”

That complexity comes hand in hand with expanding its global presence. Melco now has casinos in Macau and Manila, while investments in Australia and the UK.

However much of a headache that may cause, they’ll be hoping it’s worth it to win over Japanese lawmakers.

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