Plans to build an integrated resort in Nagasaki’s Sasebo city may be jeopardized following the acquisition of Credit Suisse, one of the ‘financial arrangers’ in the megaproject. UBS Group AG, a Swiss investment bank, is set to bail out the struggling rival in a 3 billion Swiss franc (US$3.25 billion) deal, which could jeopardize the proposed IR’s funding plans. On the other hand, market experts have dismissed the concerns, citing the ease of access to various alternative funding sources. Nagasaki Governor Kengo Oishi remains optimistic and has pledged to keep funding plans on track.
Plans for an Integrated Resort in Nagasaki
Nagasaki’s journey to build integrated resorts began years ago when Japan lifted its gambling ban and approved integrated resorts. Initially, the plan was to build integrated casinos in four different locations. However, issues arose, leading to Yokohama’s withdrawal, reducing the likelihood of resort construction in three regions: Nagasaki, Wakayama, and Osaka.
By allocating funds and setting aside a substantial portion of the fiscal year 2023 budget for the proposed IR project in Osaka, the Nagasaki administration has shown its commitment and seriousness toward the project. This move indicates the administration’s willingness to invest resources and efforts to ensure the success of the project.
Nagasaki has always been optimistic about the possibility of opening the first stage of its Integrated Resort (IR) by 2027. The central government, on the other hand, has remained silent on the subject. To support the IR project, the Nagasaki administration collaborated with Casinos Austria. The construction is expected to cost JPY 438.3 billion (US$3.8 billion). The Nagasaki Prefecture budget proposal for 2023 allocates slightly less than 1.52 billion yen for developing attractions related to the Integrated Resort (IR) project.
Funding Gone Wrong?
In order to secure funds for the project, all available funding channels were explored. Credit Suisse, a financial institution that provides traditional offerings and commodities primarily to customers in Switzerland, has been mentioned as a potential funding source for the proposed integrated resort project by the Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture, according to casinosnavi.com. The Swiss firm is well-known worldwide for its investment banking services, which include trading, mergers and acquisitions, and the issuance and underwriting of securities. It is also well-known for providing excellent wealth management services.
Regrettably, the investment bank has recently succumbed to the ongoing financial crisis. After surviving several financial crises over the course of 160 years, the long-established bank succumbed to a flood of scandals. Due to its failure, immediate action is necessary to protect stakeholders’ interests. UBS will buy the historic 167-year-old flagship for $3.2 billion. The bank’s failure and subsequent sale plan have raised concerns about the financial plans for the Nagasaki IR project.
Optimism in the Face of Uncertainty
Although the acquisition is a known impediment to previous plans, Nagasaki’s administration remains optimistic that the project will proceed as planned. When asked to comment, Governor Kengo Oishi stated that UBS’s acquisition of Credit Suisse might change the circumstances surrounding Nagasaki’s Integrated Resort (IR) plan.
Mr. Oishi revealed that Nagasaki prefecture had gathered information about Credit Suisse’s fate in relation to the proposed integrated resort. He remains optimistic about Nagasaki’s IR prospects. He has assured that the transfer of the potential financier’s ownership will not impact the integrated casino resort project’s financial arrangements. Market analysts agree with the governor’s optimism. Even without Credit Suisse, Nagasaki prefecture has alternative means of acquiring capital to finance the Nagasaki casino project.
Among the best replacements is real estate firm CBRE Group Inc and financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald. Other lenders and financial institutions may see an opportunity to capitalize on the situation and establish a foothold in Japan’s newly legalized casino gambling sector. A significant stake in the project may be appealing to some financial institutions.
Japan’s history with gambling has been rocky, which may deter some serious contenders. The country has a bad reputation regarding bureaucratic issues, some of which have slowed the integrated casino resort implementation. However, integrated resorts are viewed as the new avenue to help Japan’s economy recover in the post-corona period, and various stakeholders are pushing for reforms. Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, is expected to assist Nagasaki and Osaka in implementing IR plans to benefit its tourism industry.
The news of Credit Suisse’s bankruptcy comes as a surprise to Nagasaki’s optimistic administration. It would have made a significant contribution to the integrated resorts project. Concerns are understandable, given that the new management may cancel Nagasaki’s plan. Worse, Japan appears undecided about establishing casinos, exposing Nagasaki to even greater setbacks. The world is left to watch as events unfold, with no way of predicting the project’s future.
For Japanese readers click here 長崎県知事、クレディ・スイスの売却がIR計画に影響する可能性を指摘 (Nagasaki Governor Points Out Credit Suisse Sale Could Affect IR Plans)