Wednesday, December 5, 2012

macedonia A Billionaire’s Gamble

How many Las Vegas-inspired casino complexes can Europe support?

While Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation negotiates to build EuroVegas in Spain, one of India’s richest people is negotiating to build a gambling destination in Macedonia that will likewise include casinos, hotels, and golf courses.

“I would invest in something big, because I feel good here and we are a big company,” Subrata Roy announced during a visit to Macedonia in June.

Roy’s facility will take shape near Prespa Lake, a vacation spot along the nation’s southwestern border. IntelliNews has reported that construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2014.

Roy may not be a household name in many parts of the world, but India Today has identified him as one of the nation’s 10 most powerful people. His Lucknow-based company, Sahara India Pariwar -- it’s made him a billionaire, according to multiple sources -- employs 2 million people in a parade of fields: real estate development, film production, newspaper and magazine publishing, retailing, financial services, life insurance, health care, and hotel operations. Earlier this year, one of its affiliates reportedly paid $570 million for a controlling interest in New York City’s famed Plaza Hotel.

Roy has also dipped into the golf. Sahara India Pariwar’s real estate division has developed Aamby Valley City, a 10,600-acre resort community in Pune, Maharashtra that includes a David Hemstock-designed course.

Roy appears to be taking his venture in Macedonia seriously, for he’s purchased the Hotel Slavija in Ohrid to serve as his project managers’ command post. Ohrid is just 10 miles from Prespa Lake, whose shores extend into Albania and Greece.

Macedonia’s top government officials appear to have wholeheartedly endorsed Roy’s plans. The nation’s vice premier and finance minster joined Roy at a press conference last summer, and the government’s official website posted more than a dozen photos taken during Roy’s visit.

The original version of the preceding post first appeared in the September and October 2012 issues of the World Edition of the Golf Course Report.

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