Sands to sell Macau casino - Wednesday 13th of May 2009

LAS Vegas Sands is considering selling one of its Macau casinos, a report said on Monday, as revenues plummet in the worlds biggest gaming market.

It plans to put the Sands Macao up for about US$1.3 billion (S$1.95 billion) after failing to sell its luxury shopping centres in the southern Chinese territory, the South China Morning Post said without naming sources.

The report said Las Vegas Sands was considering selling the building and continuing to run the 21,274 sq m casino while paying the new landlord rent based on performance.

Talks kicked off last week, the daily said, as the company could not find a buyer for the shopping centres attached to the Venetian and Four Seasons resorts because the one billion dollar asking price was considered too high.

It was kind of, Okay then, if you dont want the malls, do you want the Sands? an unnamed source was quoted as saying. It said the source confirmed the companys gaming licence was not up for sale. A spokesman for the US-based company declined to comment on a potential sale of the Sands Macao, the territorys first foreign-owned casino, the paper said.

The Sands Macao opened in 2004 and the company made back its initial US$285 billion investment in 12 months, the newspaper said, as gamers poured into the city.

However, Las Vegas Sands was in November forced to fire up to 11,000 mainly construction staff as it halted work at a new US$3.3 billion, 6,400-room resort close to the Venetian. The firm blamed a freezing of the global credit markets for the delay.

Macau has become a gambling paradise, with massive casinos springing up over the past few years, helping the city overtake the Las Vegas Strip in terms of revenue.

But income has been battered as gamblers tighten their belts amid the global slowdown, while visa restrictions placed by Beijing on Chinese visitors have also hit revenues.

Macaus casinos suffered a dismal second half of 2008, although the first three months of this year saw income rise for the first time in three quarters.

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