Joint Venture to Develop Luxury Resort Adjacent
to Border with Italy
|LAS VEGAS - Nov. 29, 2005--Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE:HET)
announced today that it signed a memorandum of understanding with Hit Group,
a Slovenian company that operates nine casinos, to form a joint venture
to develop a large-scale casino resort in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, a city
on the border with Italy. Subject to all appropriate regulatory and governmental
approvals and the completion of definitive documentation, the proposed
development would be Slovenia's first full-amenity casino resort with a
luxury hotel, conference center, spa, and first-class dining, entertainment
and retail attractions.
"The unique nature of the luxury casino resort experience represents a perfect fit for the fast-growing Slovenian gaming and tourism market," said Gary Loveman, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Harrah's Entertainment. "Nova Gorica is the right place, and this is precisely the right time, for this venture with our partners at Hit. We're excited about introducing a resort destination of exceptionally high caliber to this vibrant region."
The preliminary proposal is for an investment of approximately US$700 million through a proposed 50/50 partnership of Harrah's and Hit. The project scope is anticipated to include an 800-1,200-room luxury hotel, a 50,000 square-foot casino with 1,500 slots and 70 table games; a 50,000 square-foot of convention space, a 3,000-seat theater, spa facilities, and a full complement of retail, restaurant, bar and nightclub facilities.
Slovenia has a well-established gaming market, and draws substantial visitation from nearby countries including Italy and Austria. Nova Gorica is located approximately 150 kilometers from Venice. There are currently 14 casinos in the country, eight of which are operated by Hit, and most are limited-service operations. The proposed joint venture would be the largest casino in the region, and the only area casino resort to offer destination attractions and amenities.
The announcement marks an ambitious new phase of Harrah's planned international expansion. Earlier in November, Harrah's signed a letter of intent with Baha Mar Resorts, Ltd. and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. to partner in a joint development to create a 1,000-acre destination beachfront resort with the largest casino in the Bahamas, to be operated under the Caesars brand.
Harrah's is pursuing a number of other potential developments that would further expand its brands to premier destinations around the world. Notable among those proposals is a pending bid with international partners for the Marina Bay integrated resort site in Singapore, which would include luxury accommodations, world-class convention facilities, cutting-edge entertainment venues and a new cultural center to be developed by Centre Pompidou.
Harrah's expansion into international destination markets will add a variety of new options for customers who are already familiar with its network of nearly 40 casinos in North America, and introduce the world's largest casino entertainment company to millions of new guests worldwide. More than eight million adults live within 250 kilometers of Nova Gorica, and another 26 million live within 250 kilometers to 500 kilometers. The area is laced with an excellent transportation network serving Italy, Austria and the Eastern European nations. In addition, Slovenia attracted 1.9 million foreign gaming visits last year.
The memorandum of understanding announced today in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, by Gary Loveman and Branko Tomazic, president of the management board of Hit, commits each company to a year of exclusive negotiations to complete the joint venture. Each company will own 50 percent of the proposed joint venture, which is considering several potential development sites in the immediate Nova Gorica area. All negotiations are subject to appropriate governmental approvals for the project, and no construction timeline has been established.
Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is the world's largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada 68 years ago, Harrah's has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions. Harrah's Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership.
The Hit Group ranks among the largest entertainment providers in Europe. In operation for more than 20 years, Hit has developed into a solid and promising company, dedicated to its guests and determined to satisfy their wishes by offering top quality leisure time activities. Hit considers Europe the most challenging of markets, and using an innovative approach, has won a considerable share of the continent's gaming, entertainment, and tourism sector. Today Hit Group consists of nine companies in different countries, the majority of activities are located in Nova Gorica, Slovenia, where Hit operates one of the largest gaming and entertainment centers - Perla -- in Europe. Hit's gross annual revenues will exceed EUR 260 million. For more information, please visit: www.hit.si
This release includes "forward-looking statements" intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., Las Vegas
|Also See:||Hotel Performance Across Europe Has Improved Steadily During the First Nine Months of 2005 / November 2005|