Macau | Foundation works for 5-star hotel casino currently on-going at land plot near Nam Vam Lake

Macau (MNA) – The Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) told Macau News Agency (MNA) that Treasure Island Entertainment Complex Limited has started foundation works on a 8,100 square meters land plot near Praca Ferreira Amaral near Nam Vam Lake, previously slated for a 5-star hotel and casino.

According to the DSSOPT, the department has authorised the extension of the construction license for 36 months starting from July 19 of 2017.

Treasure Island Entertainment Complex Limited was formed in 2001 between José Manuel dos Santos the founder of local communications company Vodatel Networks Holdings Ltd., and Kwan Yany Yan Chi.  The company requested the granting of a concession contract for the land in the same year.

The DSSOPT authorised the request in 2002, and in 2006 the development plan for the land plot was approved, with authorisation provided by the then Chief Executive (CE) Edmund Ho and by former Secretary for Transport and Public Works Ao Man Long.

In 2007, the MSAR Government responded to an interpellation by legislator Au Kam San questioning the lack of a public tender, explaining that it was a way to develop the local economy and create job opportunities at a time when the city still had high unemployment and a weak real estate market.

The cost of the land plot to be paid by the company at the time was set at MOP146.52 million, with the concession to expire in 2033, but able to be renewed until 2049.

The development plan revealed in 2008 included the construction of a 21-storey building for a five-star hotel with a gross floor area of 70,284 square meters, a parking lot of 12,080 square meters and a free area with an area of 5,581 square meters.

Prior to the completion of the development, Treasure Island Entertainment Company Ltd was to pay rent of MOP30 per square meter for a total of MOP243,000,  with an annual rent of MOP1.23 million defined after the completion of the land use project.

In 2007, cruise company Star Cruises – a cruise line company owned by Genting Hong Kong, which is part of the Malaysian group Genting Group – announced its 75 per cent owned subsidiary, New Orisol Investments Ltd, had purchased 75 per cent of Macau Land Investment Corp, which owns the site for the hotel, for HK$1.46 billion.

Macau Land Investment Corp was purchased from Jose Manuel dos Santos and two companies registered in the British Islands, Sirverland and World Arena, with a HK$153.56 million deposit first provided.

The total cost for developing the land was estimated at HK$3.5 billion, including the purchase agreement.

The casino was reportedly going to be operated through an SJM Holdings gaming license, with Genting Hong Kong saying in a filing in 2007 that it was ‘taking steps to implement its strategy in making investment in Macau with a view to developing a hotel for the operation of a casino (subject to obtaining the relevant authorisation from the Government of Macau)’.

At the time, Star Cruises executive director William Ng stated that they expected the project to be finished by 2009.

However, since then, the project has failed to come to fruition, with casino operator Genting Singapore Plc having dissolved Genting Star (Macau) Ltd in 2006, an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary incorporated in Macau that was to be involved in the future casino.

In 2007, scrutiny from Singapore authorities into the ties between local gaming tycoon Stanley Ho and Genting International also lead the Singapore group to leave the project in Macau, but with property still under Star Cruises.

In the 2016 annual report of Genting Hong Kong, the land plot use is still described as being for the development of a hotel and casino.

Macau Government Tourism Office (MGTO) told MNA that no hotel license has been issued for that land plot, while the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau (DICJ) hadn’t provided an answer by the time this article was published.

MNA asked Star Cruises about the plans for the land plot, but no response was received by the time of publication.