Sun International plans to list Singapore integrated resort if it wins bid - Sunday 12th of June 2005

Singaporeans will have a stake in the integrated resort on Sentosa if South Africa-based Sun International, which is bidding to build a resort there, has its way. It will kick off a survey next month so Singaporeans can give their views on what they will like to have there. On top of that, Sun International, which is planning to build the resort with a partner, plans to list the joint venture in Singapore if it wins the bid. Peter Bacon, Chief Executive, Sun International, said: "We will probably pursue an IPO. I think that would give Singaporeans an opportunity to participate from the ownership of the project and benefit from its success.

We think this is a sound option for the financing of this project." The South African-based firm is reported to be looking for partners to develop the Sentosa site. It hopes that by tapping the equity market in Singapore, it can help create a sense of ownership of its integrated resort among Singaporeans. But its CEO has cautioned that Singapore must brace itself for regional competition in the casino-resort industry, even after the resorts have been built. Sun is launching a survey next month to let Singaporeans give their inputs in hopes of creating ownership for the project. But that's only the start. Sun is only bidding for the Sentosa site but it has big ambitions for its integrated resort. Mr Bacon said: "We've got to put our minds creatively for a solution that will maintain the integrity of the location, the wonderful vegetation, the tranquility Singaporeans enjoy on Sentosa and come up with something iconic.

I would suggest that at this stage that companies vying for the opportunities should really focus on the vision and some of the big picture issues what the large-scale developments can achieve for Singapore. Details can be addressed at a later stage." But Sun remains mindful about regional competition, which it says will create major challenges for marketing and positioning the Sentosa resort. Mr Bacon said: "There're already large scale developments in Macau, Taiwan, Japan Shanghai - these are the markets which we would be required to attract casino customers - so we have to understand the competitive landscape 2 to 3 years out so we can size our investment appropriately."

So what would be the best bet for Sentosa? Just like Sun's resort in Durban which takes into account the very heritage and character of the people here, which shows up the Zulu architecture and theme, it's hoped that the integrated resort on Sentosa would also do the same to retain the island's charm and unique character as a holiday playground for Singaporeans and tourists alike. So instead of a Zulu-themed resort, one would probably look forward to a uniquely Singapore resort on Sentosa down the road.

www.channelnewsasia.com

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