Sheldon Adelson during a visit to Alcorcón outside Madrid this spring. (Efe)
The US casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, chairman of Las Vegas Sands, holds an extra board meeting for two day on Thursday and Friday in Nevada to decide whether Eurovegas, a huge hotel and casino complex, will be placed in Madrid or Barcelona.
After a long process of rivalry between the two cities to achieve the 17bn-investment, everything seems to point at Madrid as the winner.
The decisive meeting, however, is held despite the fact that Las Vegas Sands still hasn’t solved how to finance the project, according to business sources.
Adelson will need a credit of $4bn for the initial phase of the project, which Las Vegas Sands estimates will cost $6bn in total. Both national and international banks, however, have been reluctant to finance the project for two reasons: the insecurity around the possible rescue of the Spanish economy and the credit restrictions of the financial entities themselves because of the crisis in the banking sector.
Everything seems to point at Madrid as the winner of the project. Adelson has unofficially communicated this decision, according to sources close to the process. The leader of the Socialist party in Madrid, Tomás Gómez, said on Tuesday that it has been decided.
However, none of the three protagonists – the Catalan regional government, the regional government in Madrid nor Las Vegas Sands – have confirmed that a decision has been taken. The premier of Catalonia, Artur Mas, however, said on Thursday that it is likely that Madrid will end up hosting the project.
The Eurovegas project will mean the largest foreign investment in Spain during the last years. The total investment of 17bn will include the construction of a dozen hotels, casinos, three golf courses and a convention center. It is expected to create about 30,000 new jobs, including the workforce needed for the construction, as well as the service staff needed once it will open.
Adelson has been eager to push the project forward without partners, the same way he did in Macao and Singapore, where he has established similar casino complexes, which have generated major profits for Las Vegas Sands. In financial circles, however, the need for such a large credit for the initial phase is a weakness, and credit need could decreased if other groups join the project.
Decisive meeting in Nevada
The board that meets on Thursday and Friday will analyze the results from the technical commission that has looked at the two project proposals from the Catalan and Madrid governments.
According to business sources, this commission is in favor of the Catalan project, which would place Eurovegas in the Viladecans area near Barcelona. Las Vegas Sands’ board, however, will take into account other factors apart from the result from the technical commission.
What speaks in favor of Madrid is its position as capital as well as the larger capacity at the Barajas airport, as well as the fact that the area in Alcorcón, which is the area outside Madrid most likely to host the project, can be easily acquired.
In political and business circles, it is expected that Las Vegas Sands will communicate a decision following the board meeting. Other sources say the decision may be delayed because of the unsolved financing needed to initiate the project in Spain.
This article was translated and edited by Stina Lunden.
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