Wakayama provides clarity on financial investors in integrated resort

By Noah Taylor Updated
Wakayama provides clarity on financial investors in integrated resort

Japanese prefecture Wakayama is in the running to host one of the country’s new integrated resorts and has published more information about who the investors in the project will be.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that Wakayama chose Canadian investment firm Clairvest Group, would hold a 55 per cent stake in the property, while casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp is slated to hold a five per cent interest, according to details presented to the prefectural assembly.

The area development proposal, including financial pain, was presented on Monday and reviewed by the IR special committee.

It represented the first time any detailed finances around the project have been made public.

According to the plan, operation of the US$4.1 billion IR will be handled by Wakayama IR Co Ltd, an entity currently in the process of being established.

Listed members included Clairvest Neem Ventures and its parent company Clairvest Group, plus Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars, Clairvest and other investors part of Wakayama project

Caesars was announced in September 2021 as casino operator although the company had said there would be no economic investment required.

The current breakdown instead has Caesars as a five per cent investor alongside 55 per cent by Clairvest and 40 per cent by other investors.

The initial investment by stakeholders is said to be of US$1.3 billion, with the rest to be covered by debt, suggesting an investment of US$715 million by Clairvest and US$63 million by Caesars.

Pending national government approval, the goal is to open the integrated resort in the autumn of 2027, Wakayama said.

According to the description by the prefecture, the main three operators will invest an initial US$753 million combined.

It was also disclosed that Japanese companies, including the general contractor Nishimatsu Construction Co. Ltd, are lined up to invest US$502 million.

Although there was mention of investment bank Credit Suisse as the main financier for the remaining US$2.8 billion, the breakdown of this was not made public.

The council had previously asked questions about financing and the members of the operator during an extraordinary prefectural assembly of the IR special committee in November, but the prefecture and Clairvest commented that they could not give specific details at that time.

In response to this, the consolidated committee opinion was stated as, “There are insufficient details to explain to local residents and public briefings shall be postponed at this point in time.”

However, this time the special committee approved opening of the public hearings and public comments that had previously been postponed.

Public comments will be accepted for one month from 9 February to 10 March.

As Wakayama prefecture is currently in a state of pre-emergency, currently in place from 5 to 27 February, as a countermeasure against COVID-19, a public hearing is scheduled to be held at the beginning of March.

Wakayama council turns down citizens’ request for a referendum

The council of a Japanese prefecture has voted against a referendum that local residents were calling for regarding its integrated resorts bid.

In early February, Wakayama’s city council made the decision after the issue was raised by a local citizens’ group that gathered 20,000 signatures.

At an extraordinary city council meeting on 25 January it was determined that the majority of the council was opposed to a referendum, and the amendment was then officially rejected at a regular council meeting on 27 January.

Mayor Masahiro Obana cited high costs as the reason for rejecting the referendum request, stating: “There is not much point in holding a referendum,” when addressing the council.

According to a city official, the cost for holding a referendum would be US$735,000, which is around the same as holding an election.

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