Bankruptcy judge approves sale of Atlantic City casino to Toronto firm

A federal bankruptcy judge on Tuesday approved the sale of Atlantic City’s former Revel Casino Hotel for 5 cents on the dollar to a Toronto asset management firm.

Judge Gloria Burns approved the sale to Brookfield Asset Management for $110-million.

She turned aside numerous objections from the losing bidder, Florida developer Glenn Straub, who complained that Revel’s lawyers reneged on a promise to share information on competing bids, something Revel has denied.
“The best news is Revel is going to reopen as a casino,” said John Cunningham, one of Revel’s attorneys. “It’s not going to be a university.”

That was a thinly veiled swipe at one of the offbeat uses Straub had proposed for the property, including a so-called genius university where the world’s top minds would attack the planet’s biggest problems with or without a casino.

Although Straub said he intended to make a higher bid, he did not do so during the all-night auction and declined to do so at Tuesday’s hearing. Cunningham said the company decided to take Brookfield’s bid in an all-night auction rather than wait for a possible new bid by Straub a week later.

“This is a disgruntled losing bidder,” he told the judge. “Mr. Straub had to put his money where his mouth is. He didn’t do it. Our decision was to take the bird in the hand. It was too much money to risk.”

The casino cost $2.4-billion to build and never turned a profit. It closed Sept. 2 after just over two years of operation.

It was one of four Atlantic City casinos to go out of business this year, and a fifth, the Trump Taj Mahal, could close Nov. 13.

During the auction, Straub complained that he suffers from a serious medical issue and had left his medication in Florida, jeopardizing his health. He didn’t specify what kind of medical issue he had.

“I was wandering up and down the streets, which is what caused my medical condition,” Straub told the judge in complaining about the duration of the auction and the 6 a.m. deadline that Brookfield set for acceptance of their bid. “It was cold, high anxiety. This is life and death here. How can they keep continuing to do this?”

Straub also objected to being told at 3:45 a.m. that any new bid he might make had to be received by 5 a.m. because Brookfield made its bid contingent on being accepted by 6 a.m. He said he couldn’t reach his financial advisers at that hour.

“I don’t know if I knew my name at 5:30 in the morning,” he said.

Straub had no immediate comment after the judge’s ruling.

In approving the sale, Burns said the auction had been run properly. She set Oct. 20 as a hearing date for numerous unresolved legal issues in the case.

Cunningham said Revel and Brookfield expect to close on the deal within 60 days.

Brookfield spokesman Andrew Willis said the company plans to run Revel as a casino, but he wouldn’t comment on other plans for it.

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Poker star Phil Ivey loses $12.4-million case against casino in Britain

Ten-time World Series of Poker winner Phil Ivey has lost his case against a British casino he accused of improperly withholding his winnings.

Britain’s High Court ruled Wednesday that Genting Casinos UK does not have to pay him the 7.7 million pounds ($12.4 million) he was seeking.

The casino’s lawyers convinced the court that Ivey’s used of “edge sorting” tactics was not legitimate and that the casino did not have to pay. The casino said he essentially kept track of card values by watching for design imperfections on the backs of the cards.

The 38-year-old Ivey said he was disappointed with the ruling. He claims he won the money during two days of playing baccarat at Crockfords, a Mayfair casino that is part of the Genting group, in August 2012.

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Police officer charged in 2012 shooting of man at New Westminster casino

The B.C. Crown has taken the rare step of charging a police officer with second-degree murder in the 2012 shooting of a man at a standoff at a suburban New Westminster casino.

Constable Jordan MacWilliams made a court appearance Monday in New Westminster. He has been released on a recognizance of bail with terms and conditions.

At issue is the death of 48-year-old Mehrdad Bayrami of Richmond, B.C.

Early in the morning of Nov. 8, police responded to a 911 call about shots fired in a parking lot near the Starlight Casino and came across Mr. Bayrami, according to a statement on the incident issued days after the shooting by the Independent Investigations Office.

Police tried to negotiate with Mr. Bayrami, and at about 10:45 a.m., an officer-involved shooting occurred. According to the Crown statement issued Monday, Mr. Bayrami was shot on a paved pathway near the casino, but there is no information on how he got there or the circumstances around the shooting,

Mr. Bayrami was wounded and died in hospital on Nov. 18.

Const. MacWilliams had been deployed to the scene as a member of the municipal emergency response team.

Neil MacKenzie, a spokesman for the provincial Criminal Justice Branch, said the Crown has previously charged officers over the use of force while on duty, but that he could not recall a murder charge.

“I can’t say that it’s never occurred before. But it’s not a charge that has occurred frequently – if at all,” Mr. MacKenzie said in an interview on Monday.

Rob Gordon, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University, said it was an “extremely unusual” situation for B.C. because police shootings are rare, and evidence rarely accumulates in such incidents to justify a prosecution.

The Crown said, in a statement, that the chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations Office, launched in 2012 to conduct criminal investigations into police-related incidents involving death or serious injury, submitted a report to Crown on July 15, 2013, but later that month the Crown asked for more information.

That led to further investigation and two submissions of information were provided to the Crown in July and earlier this month. Mr. MacKenzie declined to discuss the requested information.

As is routine, the investigations office report would not make a recommendation on whether charges should be laid or which charges the Crown might consider.

Delta police said Monday that Const. MacWilliams, who has been an officer for 5 years, has been placed on administrative leave.

Kellie Kilpatrick, a spokesperson for the investigations office, said this is the fourth time that reports by the organization have led to charges against B.C. police officers since the office was launched.

The previous cases involved a non-fatal officer-involved shooting in Cranbrook, a fatal motor-vehicle crash in Salmon Arm and a traffic violation in New Westminister.

Ms. Kilpatrick said it wasn’t unusual for the Crown to request additional investigative information because the case was complex.

“In this case, it was a big area. The incident had gone on for a period of time before the affected person was shot. There were numerous police officers involved so it required us to deploy quite heavily in the early days,” she said, referring to staff sent to conduct interviews and other aspects of the investigation.

“Whenever you have an incident that takes place in a more public area, you potentially have more witnesses. Any time you have multiple police officers as opposed to one or two, it makes things more complex. You have to determine who is the subject officer and who is the witness officer.”

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Japan casino plan likely to be delayed again, official says

Japan’s plan to legalise casino gambling is likely to be delayed yet again, a senior official said, dealing a new blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a setback to operators anxious for the launch of Asia’s next big gambling market.

Las Vegas Sands, Genting Singapore, MGM Resorts, Melco Crown Entertainment and others are waiting in the wings as potential investors in what analysts say is one of the world’s biggest untapped markets, worth tens of billions of dollars a year.

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But parliament was unlikely to have enough time to pass the controversial law during the current session, which ends on Nov. 30, the coalition official said.

“The hurdle is quite high for both lower and upper houses to enact it” during the current session, Keiichi Ishii, policy chief of Komeito, the junior partner in Abe’s coalition government, told Reuters, adding that there was concern among some Komeito members over the effects of gambling on society.

Abe, who wants Japan’s first casino open in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, saw two cabinet minister resign earlier in the day over the dubious use of public funds, moves that could complicate tough decisions on key policies.

Both analysts and lawmakers said the scandal could affect the casino bill, already delayed by criticism that legalised gambling would lead to higher crime, gambling addiction and money laundering.

“Abe’s support will fall, and things will not go as planned, for example enacting the casino law could become difficult,” said Tomoaki Iwai, Nihon University political science professor. “Implementing policies will become more difficult.”

One pro-casino, parliamentary source said the outlook was “uncertain”, saying he feared the scandal would make Abe less capable to exerting influence over coalition colleagues, emboldening anti-casino lawmakers within the coalition.

Another pro-casino political source, however, said he expected parliamentary debate to start in the next few months.

“We are definitely seeing delays. The resignations don’t really directly affect the bill, but they don’t help either,” said one of the sources, requesting anonymity because legislation was still pending. “We’re still hoping for parliamentary discussions of the bill to start early next month, perhaps around November 5th or 7th.”

Support from Komeito is seen as crucial for the bill since Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party does not have a majority on its own in the Upper House. But many members of the party, backed by a Buddhist group, oppose the bill.

PILLAR OF GROWTH

Other parties have also been mixed, reflecting a divide in public opinion. A nationwide survey by the Mainichi newspaper conducted over the weekend showed 62 percent of the public opposed the bill, with only 31 percent in favour.

While some members of the opposition Democratic Party have taken part in drafting casino legislation, others have been highly critical.

“They were trying to squeeze the bill through, without much debate… but that is not going to work,” said Toshio Ogawa, a Democratic Party member, told Reuters. “I think the bill will be crushed.”

Abe has made legalising casino gambling, already hugely popular in Asian centres Macau and Singapore, a pillar of his plan to revive economic growth through tourism.

Pro-casino lawmakers have aimed to pass the “integrated resort” bill by the end of the year so they can submit a second bill next year which would address specifics such as regulations.

But legislation has already been carried over from a previous session of parliament. It could also struggle to pass in the ordinary session from early 2015, which will be dominated by major bills such as the national budget.

That would make it nearly impossible for any casinos to be built in time for the Olympics.

In an effort to set the legislative process in motion, pro-casino lawmakers last week agreed to revise the bill by mentioning the need for limits on Japanese nationals’ entry to casinos, bowing to pressure from opponents.

Proponents of the bill said the revision did not mean Japanese nationals would be banned, but casino operators have been wary of any move that could limit entry.

While Abe has said casinos will attract tourists, market researchers say Japan’s 128 million people would likely account for most of the revenue and casino operators have said foreigner-only resorts could struggle to make a profit.

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Web-casino group Intertain’s expansion plans a win for investors

A bet on growth in the online gambling market has made investors in Intertain Group Ltd. a lot of money in recent months, and analysts see more gains ahead driven by the company’s aggressive expansion plan.

Shares in the Toronto-based company behind the InterCasino and InterPoker online gaming brands have spiked more than 200 per cent since going public at $4 in February.

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Intertain offers online games such as blackjack, roulette and Texas hold’em, largely to players in the active British market. The high-margin business is a draw for investors who appreciate the maturing online gaming market and believe in the company’s growth-by-acquisition strategy. That’s even though the stock’s valuation is at the higher end of its peer group.

“You’re paying the higher end of the range, but you’re gaining the upside of additional M&A [mergers and acquisitions],” said Clarus Securities analyst Eyal Ofir, who has a $14.30 price target on the stock – a target that doesn’t reflect the company’s most recent acquisition.

All six analysts who cover the company call it a “buy,” and the consensus price target over the next year is $14.34, according to S&P Capital IQ. The stock is trading around $13.80.

“If you’re willing to invest in publicly traded casino operators, you should be willing to invest in an online casino operator like Intertain, which only operates in regulated jurisdictions,” Mr. Ofir said.

Intertain went public after buying the InterCasino assets from technology company Amaya Gaming Group Inc.

In June, Intertain began its expansion with the purchase of British online bingo website company Mandalay Media, which was followed this month by its agreement to buy online casino operator Vera & John, giving it access to more players in Nordic countries.

“We wanted to diversity our revenue away from the U.K.,” Intertain’s chief executive officer John FitzGerald said in an interview.

The company’s goal is to make two acquisitions each year to expand the business, with a focus on games catering to the female demographic, such as bingo and slots. Mr. FitzGerald said he believes that strategy will set the company apart from competitors focused more on sports and other games geared toward men.

He said Intertain plans to expand across Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, but will steer clear of Canada for now, until Canadian online gambling laws are clarified, and the United States, until online gambling is legalized in more states. (Internet gambling was banned in the United States. in 2006, but some states, such as Nevada, are slowly starting to regulate it.)

“Given Intertain’s international presence, regulation is probably one of the most significant risks facing the company,” National Bank Financial analyst Adam Shine said in a recent note initiating coverage on the company.

Still, Mr. Shine has an “outperform” on Intertain and $15 target, saying it’s well positioned to capitalize on the industry’s global growth.

That may include more acquisitions in Britain following a consumption tax that analysts say will eat into companies’ profits, forcing smaller players out of the market, leaving Intertain with an opportunity to buy companies at cheaper valuations.

“We believe that material upside exists as the company continues to successfully execute its M&A strategy and grow its expanding scope of operations,” Mr. Shine said.

Mackie Research analyst Nikhil Thadani has a $15.75 target on the stock, saying in a note he believes the stock’s “revenue guarantee, strong organic prospects, able management team, very rapid M&A execution and more M&A upside warrants a premium multiple.”

Bruce Campbell, president and portfolio manager at StoneCastle Investment Management, said his firm bought some stock a few months ago and is happy with the gains, but believes the stock is fully valued at current levels.

“We’re sitting in a profit position and are happy to hold right now,” he said.

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Atlantic City bust: How a storied gambling destination lost its lustre

For more than 20 years, Rob Mayer manned the front doors of some of Atlantic City’s biggest casino hotels, greeting gamblers, carting bags and getting hefty tips. He loved his job and never imagined working anywhere else.

Mr. Mayer spent most of his career at Bally’s, but when he heard about plans for a $2.4-billion (U.S.) resort called Revel, he jumped at the chance to work there and earn $20 an hour. The new job didn’t last long. Revel shut its doors in September, a little more than two years after it opened. And it’s not the only casino to go down. Three others have also closed this year amid a stunning downturn in the city’s gambling business.

“It was going to be my retirement job,” Mr. Mayer says as he passes time in a union hall. “It was a great opportunity to make a lot of money.”

For decades, Atlantic City was an Eastern beacon for fun and games, a resort town that came to be known for its gleaming boardwalk lined with flashy casinos that rivalled those in Las Vegas. This is where the Miss America Pageant began, where stars like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby came to play and where the board game Monopoly was invented using the city’s street names like Boardwalk and Park Place.

Today, the city is a shadow of that glorious past. Gambling revenue has fallen by nearly half in the past seven years. Just eight casinos are left, and one, the Trump Taj Mahal, is teetering. Nearly 8,000 jobs have vanished with the casino closings and many neighbourhoods are lined with abandoned homes.

Now the city is counting on a Canadian company to help turn things around. A subsidiary of Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is buying Revel for just $110-million, part of a push Brookfield is making into the casino business. It’s a risky bet.

Revel was supposed to help reinvent Atlantic City when it opened. While other establishments made the casino the focal point of their venue, gambling almost seemed like an afterthought at Revel. Instead it tried to offer a new level of luxury and celebrity with a 32,000-square-foot spa and four shows by Beyoncé to kick off the grand opening. Its sleek 47-storey glass structure stood out as a symbol of sophistication amid the bright lights and kitsch along the boardwalk. But now the building sits empty, an imposing derelict of failed dreams.

Just how Brookfield might turn around Revel’s fortunes remains to be seen. Brookfield’s deal for the resort hasn’t closed, and company officials have yet to spell out their plans. That means people like Mr. Mayer can only wait and hope that the Canadians will succeed where so many others have failed. Some of his former colleagues have packed up and headed to Las Vegas. He is staying put.

“I’m waiting for Revel to reopen and once it reopens hopefully I’ll be re-employed there,” he says.

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Macau casino industry heads into losing streak amid Chinese graft crackdown

Macau’s casino industry is headed for its longest losing streak, facing months more of falling revenues as continued crackdowns against graft by the Chinese government prompt gamblers to tone down on extravagance.

A two-year campaign on corruption has discouraged China’s high-rollers from ostentatious displays of wealth in Macau, the only place in the country where casinos are legal. The industry could be further affected by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s expected visit to Macau next month, according to Union Gaming Research analyst Grant Govertsen.

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“Since the beginning of October, the market has rallied with a view that October is the worst gross gaming revenue decline, and that most of the bad news is already in the price,” Praveen K Choudhary, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote in a note Wednesday. “We disagree.”

Growth in the mass market sector could drop to zero or worse from now to March 2015, according to Mr. Choudhary who predicts the VIP business will only start improving in as early as three months. Historically, stock prices bottomed at the same time as casino revenue troughed, he said.

Shares of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. fell 4.3 per cent to close at $64.8 (HK) in Hong Kong trading, leading the second day of declines among Macau operators after the city reported its worst slump in monthly gaming revenue on record.

Sands China Ltd. was down 3.3 per cent, Wynn Macau Ltd. dropped 3.1 per cent, while Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. lost 3 percent. SJM Holdings Ltd. and MGM China Holdings declined by 2.9 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Record Decline

Wynn Macau and SJM were downgraded to underperform from neutral at Credit Suisse Group AG today, and the bank also cut Sands China to neutral from outperform.

Total casino revenue in the world’s biggest gambling hub fell 23.2 per cent to 28-billion patacas ($3.5 billion) in October, dropping for the fifth straight month, according to Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau yesterday.

The previous record decline was in January 2009, when casino revenue fell 17.1 per cent in the aftermath of a global credit crisis. It slumped seven months straight from December 2008 to June 2009, the longest losing streak for the city.

Macau’s casino gambling revenue is expected to keep declining until mid-2015, when casino operators start opening new properties, Barclays Plc analyst Phoebe Tse wrote in a note yesterday. Full-year revenue should slump by 1 percent, she said, making it the industry’s first annual decline in the city.

The former Portuguese enclave recorded the slowest annual growth in casino revenue in 2009 with a 9.7 percent gain and it hasn’t seen a yearly decline since records started in 2002.

Men in Foxholes

Parent companies of the Macau casinos fell Wednesday in New York trading, with Las Vegas Sands Corp. dropping 2.6 per cent at 10:15 a.m., while MGM Resorts International declined 4 per cent and Wynn Resorts Ltd. lost 3.8 per cent.

Wynn Resorts, founded by billionaire Steve Wynn, reported Oct. 28 that revenue climbed 9 percent at its two casinos on the Las Vegas strip, which helped offset a 5.6-per-cent drop in its Macau properties where the company gets more than two-thirds of its sales.

“The policy of the central government in being very, very aggressive about what appeared to be a misconduct and corruption of the government has put a lot of the wealthy businessmen in the foxholes,” Mr. Wynn said in a teleconference after the results, according to a Bloomberg transcript.

“I don’t know whether it’s a squall or we’re in the rainy season or how long it will last, but we’re still very, very bullish on Macau,” the 72-year-old executive said.

Government finances won’t be hurt by falling casino tax revenue even with continued declines next year, said Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam in a statement on the Information Bureau’s website.

The industry’s current slowdown “is in line with the authorities’ expectations,” Tam said, adding that he believes the trend “will be maintained for a longer period of time.”

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NBA boss Adam Silver alone in call to legalize sports betting

Adam Silver caught his fellow sports commissioners by surprise with his call for the U.S. government to legalize and regulate sports betting. There is little support for the NBA boss from the NHL and from at least one prominent baseball executive.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday the issue of legalized sports betting needs a lot more discussion before any decisions about government legalization and regulation can be made. While there was no official word from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, whose league attracts the most money by far in sports gambling, or Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, they have previously objected to the idea. Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, long an anti-gambling advocate, remains opposed to sports betting.

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“Why would you put yourself in a position where you could have any type of question about the integrity of your game, whether [betting] is regulated or not regulated?” Beeston said.

A discussion on all forms of media was sparked when Silver wrote an op-ed essay for The New York Times. The NBA commissioner wrote that sports betting has become so pervasive in North American society it is time for the sports leagues and the U.S. government to regulate the estimated $400-billion (U.S.) bet illegally every year in the United States.

Silver finished his essay with the following two paragraphs:

“Let me be clear: Any new approach must ensure the integrity of the game. One of my most important responsibilities as commissioner of the NBA is to protect the integrity of professional basketball and preserve public confidence in the league and our sport. I oppose any course of action that would compromise these objectives.

“But I believe that sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”

Aside from horse racing, sports betting in the U.S. is illegal in all but four states – Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon. The law governing sports betting is called the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which was passed in 1992 and prohibits states from allowing gambling on sports.

The state of New Jersey is trying to authorize sports betting at its racetracks and casinos but the law allowing that was struck down last month by a U.S. federal court. An appeal is under way but the NBA, along with the NHL, NFL, MLB and the NCAA are officially opposed to the New Jersey law.

Silver said in his essay he and the NBA remain opposed to New Jersey’s attempts to allow sports betting but he thinks it is time the U.S. government changes PASPA, legalizes betting and takes over the regulation of it, not the individual states. He said it is time to take a “thriving underground business” give fans “a safe and legal way to wager on professional sporting events.”

Gambling is not one of the hottest issues with the NHL because there is less money bet on it than any of the other three major North American professional sports leagues. According to the American Gaming Association, an industry lobbying group, $3.45-billion was legally bet in Nevada’s sports books in 2012. It is said only about 1 per cent of that was bet on NHL games.

There is relatively more betting on the NHL in Canada through lotteries operated by the provinces but the league still runs second to the NFL. A spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. said about $285-million (Canadian) was spent in the province on its Pro-Line games. But only $72.7-million was spent on NHL wagers, which was second behind the NFL.

Bettman, like Beeston, wonders what legal sports betting would do to the way sports fans, especially young fans, cheer for their favourite teams.

“Does it change the dynamic of the relationship that a child has growing up rooting for his or her favourite team to enter the concern of are you going to win your bet?” Bettman said. “Secondly, the issue is what does it do environmentally in a stadium and an arena where people’s rooting interests would tend to diverge from the obvious.

“It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight if it happens at all. It’s something that will get much further discussion.”

Beeston once served as chairman of the Centre For Addiction And Mental Health in Toronto and is concerned about the effect legal betting would have on those with gambling problems. He said he realizes sports teams and leagues are now accepting advertising from casinos and betting web sites but thinks a line still has to be drawn.

“I’m personally against it because I’ve seen what can and does happen,” he said. “As soon as you legalize it, the sooner you get people starting gambling at a very young age, the more it becomes a life-long affliction.”

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Ivanhoé latest Canadian fund to seek prized property abroad

Ivanhoé is currently looking to redeploy capital from other asset sales and the Blackstone asset marked an opportunity to do so, said an industry source familiar with the transaction. Ivanhoé has been getting out of hotels, for example, as it executes a strategy of simplifying its holdings and focusing on a smaller number of geographies.

“The market that makes the most sense to go invest right now is the U.S. market,” said the source, adding that, while a sales agreement on the New York tower has been signed, a final deal is months away.

It marks the second highest price yet paid for an office building in the United States.

Canada’s public and private funds, such as Ivanhoé parent Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, are plowing massive sums into the globe’s premier markets, such as New York, London and Paris.

According to data from Real Capital Analytics, Canadians have been the single largest buyer of U.S.-based commercial real estate since 2010, acquiring property positions worth $8.3-billion through the first eight months of the year.

Brookfield Asset Management Inc.’s property unit is taking a run at Songbird Estates, owner of London’s Canary Wharf financial district, in what would reportedly be the largest British property deal of the decade. Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System’s real estate unit, Oxford Industries Inc., is developing Hudson Yards in Manhattan and last year stuck a deal to build an office and retail complex in London’s St. James’s market, part of a $7-billion (Canadian) effort to add to its European portfolio by 2015. Canada Pension Plan Investment Board in June pumped another $108-million (U.S.) into a 20-storey office tower at One Park Avenue in New York.

Although transaction prices have been climbing in recent years, the investors are looking at the cities as places where they can earn steady if non-spectacular returns as opportunities in fixed income remain unattractive and the lengthy bull run in global stock markets slows down. Investors are buying a predictable cash flow in building typically leased at very high levels.

“They’re getting trophy assets that are irreplaceable and can only grow in value,” said Sylvan Adams, who is one of Canada’s shrewdest property developers as head of Montreal-based Iberville Developments Ltd. “And since they’re in it for the long term and they’re not players, they’re not flippers, that’s a trend which I think is going to stick around – until the next real estate crisis.”

A projected downturn in equities and continued low interest rates in the months ahead will push the Caisse to shift more of its attention to private investments, such as infrastructure and real estate, as well as to emerging markets with potentially higher growth rates,

such as Mexico, Caisse chief executive Michael Sabia said in August.

The pension fund tallied a 6.7-per-cent return on investments for the first six months of the year and grew assets to $214.7-billion (Canadian). The year’s second half will likely be weaker, Mr. Sabia said.

“These are really centres of the world” where the Canadians are putting their money,” said Michel Nadeau, a former Caisse senior executive who now works at Quebec’s Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations. “And they will continue to attract business. Transaction prices are really expensive. But in the long term I think rents [can make it worth the while].”

Ivanhoé bought the Avenue of the Americas property at an investment yield, as measured by capitalization rate, of 4.5 per cent, according to Bloomberg. Officials with both Ivanhoe and Blackstone declined to comment.

David Berman writes for Inside the Market, which offers readers up-to-the-minute analysis of stock trends and market-moving news throughout the trading day.

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Future is unclear for casino-resort development near BC Place

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The future of a casino-resort development near BC Place is questionable as an expanded review of its operator has been launched.

The Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch is looking into whether Paragon Gaming is fulfilling its obligations in BC.

David Eby, the opposition critic for gaming, says the review is in addition to one that’s already taking place of the former head of the BC Lottery Corporation, Michael Graydon, who now works for an affiliate of Paragon Gaming.

“The head of the BC Lottery Corporation, which is responsible for regulating casinos in the province, for two months secretly negotiated a job with Paragon to be involved in the development of this casino and that was a violation of provincial conflict of interest rules. So, GPEB announced that they are doing an investigation of the circumstances of Mr. Graydon’s departure, his violation of provincial conflict of interest rules and whether that makes him ineligible to work for a gaming company in British Columbia.”

Eby says the implications for Paragon are pretty serious. “They may not be able to continue to operate the Edgewater Casino if they’re found to be not suitable, in terms of the company, to operate it.”

He says the development is pegged at half a billion dollars, so this review is a big deal and absolutely necessary. “Unfortunately for Paragon, they have a very shaky history in Canada for developing casinos. That’s why, I believe, the investigation is taking place. If it’s not why it’s taking place, it’s why it should be taking place. I think that, I hope that, if the investigation is done properly it will ensure BC taxpayers are protected and ensuring that the company that does build at BC Place has the financially knowledge to be able to do it properly.”

Eby says there’s a distinct possibility the project could be scrapped if Paragon is found unsuitable to operate in the province.

He adds there has been no timeline given when the review should be completed.

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