External consultants brought in for casino development project in Saipan

19 April 2018 Consultancy.asia

A government entity has brought in external consultants to assist with development management of the new Saipan Integrated Resorts on the Pacific island of Saipan. The Imperial Pacific Resort is set to be completed by the end of August and will pave the way for the further development of Saipan’s luxury casino industry.

Saipan is part of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific under US administration, and is home to a new casino and hotel complex under the banner of Imperial Pacific International (ICI). As part of the implementation monitoring process of the facility, the Office of the Governor has initiated a Development Plan Advisory Committee (DPAC), tasked with ensuring timely implementation and successful development of the Saipan casino industry.

Imperial Pacific won the Casino Resort Development License in August 2014 and has since begun to develop its strategy for Saipan Integrated Resorts, of which the Imperial Palace is the first permanent development. The second stage of the islands resort precinct will include multiple resorts, 20 six-star themed hotels, a 1 kilometre duty-free shopping boulevard featuring top international designer labels and a themed water-park, among others.External consultants brought in for casino development project in SaipanTo support the development of the resort, DPAC's programme team has following a competitive tender selected Pacific Century, a local consulting firm specialsed in project management for large infrastructure projects. The consultancy has in recent years represented various multinational firms such as ABB Energy Ventures, Hydro Capital and Huawei Technologies.

To assist in its activities, Pacific Century has hired Euro-Asia Consultants, a boutique casino and hospitality consultancy. The firm is headed by Stephen Karoul, a prominent figure in the international casino advisory arena who has worked in the casino industry both in the United States as well as across Asia for nearly 40 years. He has a wealth of experience in creating targeted marketing campaigns, casino management strategies and market development, and will work with a team including fellow industry veteran Dean Macomber to advise the Development Plan Advisory Committee.

The casino industry is booming across Asia, and Saipan is primed to become one of the region’s next hotspots. The local industry is beginning to out-shadow Macau as Asia’s casino haven due to its relaxed regulatory environment, tax incentives and relatively inexpensive development licenses. This competitive edge combined with tightened restrictions in Macau by the Chinese Government has dealt the island a royal flush. With a population of under 50,000, the island is now receiving over 500,000 big spending tourists a year.

Whilst the Imperial Palace has been under construction the IPI has been operating out of an off-site facility called Best Sunshine Live. In the past year, the temporary casino and training facility has been generating more profit than Macao’s famous Venetian Casino. With less than a fifth of the casino’s VIP tables, Best Sunshine Live has managed to generate over $30 billion in lost bets from high rollers; $3.5 billion more than Venetian in the same period.

However, a recent Bloomberg investigation contended that the figures are inflated as a result of Chinese money laundering. The Commonwealth Casino Commission’s Executive Director Edward Deleon Guerrero responded to the Bloomberg claims earlier this year, stating his belief that due to a comparably high level of tax in places like Macau on gross gambling revenue (25% as opposed to 5%), that income is being under reported elsewhere as a result.

Surbana Jurong strikes deal to develop shipping corridor across Mexico

19 April 2019 Consultancy.asia

Singapore-headquartered urban and infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong has been appointed as a master-planner for the Interoceanic Corridor project in Mexico.

At 40 kilometers wide and 300 long, Mexico’s slated $150 million Interoceanic Corridor will dissect the country’s Tehuantepec isthmus to connect its Atlantic and Pacific coasts – with the aim of facilitating trade and fast-tracking local economic growth. Now, the project has a new and far more distant connection, with the involvement of Singaporean-headquartered infrastructure consultancy Surbana Jurong.

Striking a deal with the Mexican state governments of Veracruz and Oaxaca, Surbana Jurong will develop a strategic plan for the Interoceanic Corridor as well as provide master planning on two associated special economic zones, in what the rapidly growing firm states is a significant milestone in its international aspirations – which over the past few years have already seen its presence grow to 130-plus offices in more than 40 countries.

“We are privileged to be appointed as master planners for the Interoceanic Corridor project. Surbana Jurong has a strong track record, having delivered master plans for projects in over 30 countries and are pleased to contribute our expertise towards Mexico’s development success,” said Surbana Jurong Group CEO Wong Heang Fine on helping to unlock the region’s economic potential.Surbana Jurong strikes deal to develop interoceanic corridor across MexicoAccording to the firm, the agreement will see Surbana Jurong perform a detailed review of the Interoceanic Corridor including its broad socio-economic benefits to the region and potential growth industrial clusters, with the strategic plan comprising of recommendations on market positioning and development directions, proposals for utilities and services infrastructure, and zoning plans to identify land use distribution along the corridor.

In addition, the firm will devise the master plan for two economic development areas along the Interoceanic Corridor in the states of Veracruz and Oaxaca, guiding the physical development of the two industrial sites through planning of land use, infrastructure, utilities and transportation – with the aim of “creating a conducive environment for investment and providing a quality living environment for the people that live and work there.”

“We are pleased to see the partnership continue to make progress since we started this conversation a few years ago,” said Khor Aik Lam, Latin America Regional Group Director of Enterprise Singapore, which helped facilitate the deal. “The strong commitment and joint efforts from all parties have culminated in this milestone venture to bring Singapore’s economic development capabilities to Mexico.”

Connecting the ports of Salinas Cruz on the Pacific coast and Coatzacoalcos on the Atlantic, the local Interoceanic Corridor is one of a number of proposed or under development cross-continental shipping routes to rival the Panama Canal, including routes across Guatemala and Nicaragua – with the contemporary race harking back to the 19th Century when a number of American industry and shipping titans fought to be the first.