Shangri-La in Talks With Las Vegas Sands - Friday 12th of August 2005

Shangri-La Asia Ltd., Asias biggest luxury hotel chain, is in talks with U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. to manage two Sands hotels in the nearby gambling enclave of Macau, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Shangri-Las Chief Executive Giovanni Angelini told The Standard newspaper that the company is discussing managing a 4-star business hotel and a 5-star luxury hotel under its Traders brand.

But Angelini said Shangri-La will only manage the two hotels and not the casinos.

"We wont be managing the casinos," he was quoted as saying. "We are not discussing any investments by Shangri-La, only management contracts."

Shangri-Las spokeswoman Elizabeth DeMotte declined to confirm the report to The Associated Press.

But DeMotte said the company plans to build between 80 to 90 more hotels around the world, including 35 in mainland China -- its single-largest market, by 2008. Shangri-La, controlled by Malaysias Kuok Group, now owns or manages 47 hotels.

Las Vegas Sands is among the new casino players in Macau since 2002 when the local government ended a four-decade monopoly held by tycoon Stanley Ho.

The U.S. company, which operates the Venetian Casino Resort in Las Vegas, opened the Sands Macau casino in May last year and hopes to develop the Cotai area into Macaus version of the Las Vegas Strip.

The company is building the Macau Venetian Casino Resort, scheduled to open around June 2007. It said last year it wanted to build more hotel-casinos with partners, with the partners running the hotels and Las Vegas Sands operating the casino portions.

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