Lawrence Ho raises stake on Russian casino development

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that a consortium backed by Lawrence Ho is planning to raise its stake in a casino project on the outskirts of Vladivostok in Russia to 85 percent. A source told the paper that operators in eastern Russia are looking to attract travelers and gamers from northern China.

Ho's local partner, Oleg Drozdov, who holds a 30 percent stake in the project, has agreed to sell half his stake in the casino project to Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd. and Taiwan-listed electronic gambling machine maker Firich Enterprises Co. for $20.2 million, the source told the paper.

Upon completion of the deal, Summit Ascent, in which Ho owns a 33.8 percent stake, will raise its stake in the casino project to 60 percent from 46 percent, while Firich Enterprises will hold a 20 percent stake in the project. Melco International Development Ltd.--another one of Ho's companies--and Drozdov will own the remaining 5 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

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The project is expected to have 120 hotel rooms and would be one of the first legal casinos to open in Russia after the country in 2009 banned casino gambling beyond four special zones. Construction costs are expected to total $650 million.


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