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Spain – Crux moment for BCN World

By - 6 July 2015

In June, the Veremonte Group, the investment company that has been leading the initiative to create Europe’s largest holiday resort in Europe, BCN World near Tarragona, announced its decision to withdraw from the project. In the June issue of G3, Veremonte Managing Director, Xavier Adserà, vented his frustration at his claims of a lack of progress by the regional government in the passing of regulations to enable development of BCN World this summer. Mr. Adserà suggested that the project could even move location from Barcelona as a result.

In response to the comments in G3, the Catalan Government has issued a statement refuting this claim. Damià Calvet, Director of the Catalan Land Institute and coordinator of the project for the Government of Catalonia (pictured) told us: The Government of Catalonia would like to clarify that the project to create an integrated tourism complex with casinos on the Vila-seca and Salou Recreational and Tourist Center land is promoted by the government and, as a result, the development will carry on at this location.

“For some time, Veremonte played a key role in this project due to the fact that they held a purchase option on the land. However, as they did not exercise this purchase option, this is no longer the case. So, with or without Veremonte, the project continues to move forward,” stated Mr. Calvet. “The government is currently working at a steady pace with the operators (Melco, Hard Rock and Peralada Group) that submitted bids in the tender to award casino licenses and were approved in the pre-selection process.

“At the same time, the government is working on the Urban-Development Master Plan (PDU) for the land where the complex will be built. The PDU will receive initial approval in July 2015 and development may begin once the legal process of public notification and final approval has been completed. Moreover, in order to speed up the project, urban development and casino construction may take place simultaneously,” concluded Mr. Calvet.

The new complex can have up to six casino licenses and, as of now, three companies or groups of companies have already been pre-approved.

The depature of Veremonte has meant that the Catalan Government has had to guarantee the project’s continuation, reaching an agreement with La Caixa Bank for the rights to buy the 500 hectares of land allocated for BCN World. Veremonte was linked to the initiative through the casino licences’ tender, which it was bidding for in partnership with Hard Rock Casinos and Melco International. As yet, there has been no update as to the reaching of an agreement concerning Veremonte’s participation in the licence tender.

Catalan Business Minister, Felip Puig, has stated that the departure of Veremonte will not impede the continuation of the project as Melco, Hard Rock, Grup Perlada and Value Retail remain committed to BCN World. “I believe the operation is much more viable, as companies interested in investing can negotiate with the Catalan Government directly and without intermediaries, said Mr. Puig.

The Catalan Executive has held several business meetings with representatives from casino group Melco International, US entertainment group Hard Rock, Catalan casino, hotel and winemaking group, Grup Peralada, and UK shopping centre management company, Value Retail.

Veremonte’s withdrawal “is not a problem,” concluded Mr. Puig, stating that the other companies involved in BCN World will bring the project forward in all its aspects – casinos, hotels and restaurants. The Government hopes that firms such as Melco, Hard Rock, Grup Peralada and Value Retail will remain committed to the project. Their presence is fundamental, especially after the withdrawal of Veremonte and its main promoters, Enrique Bañuelos and Xavier Adserà.

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