K Wah to add 5,000 workers in Macau - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

K Wah Construction Materials, which won shareholder approval Tuesday to buy Galaxy Casino from real estate tycoon Lui Che-woo and his family, plans to add more than 5,000 workers in Macau over the next 12 months to staff its three new casinos.

In April the Hong Kong stock exchange cleared the way for the company to buy 97.9 percent of Galaxy from KWah chairman Lui Che-woo and his family for HK$18.4 billion. The purchase is being paid for by a combination of 1.84 billion new K Wah Construction shares valued at HK$8 apiece and HK$3.7 billion in interest-bearing notes and cash.

Francis Lui, deputy chairman of KWah Construction and a Galaxy director, said shareholders unanimously approved the sale at a special meeting Tuesday. Galaxy owns the Waldo casino in Macau, which opened last summer. It will build three new casinos over the next 12 months - the Galaxy StarWorld and two new City Clubs.

Galaxys chief executive Anthony Carter said Galaxy StarWorld, which is set to open in mid-2006, will hire 2,000 workers, while the two City Clubs together will add 3,000 more over the next six to seven months.

Thanks to a labor shortage in Macau, the company will look to Hong Kong for additional workers, Lui said.

Galaxys massive new casino resort in Cotai, is slated to open in the first quarter of 2008, bringing the companys total investment in new resorts to HK$5.7 billion.

K Wah Construction financial controller William Lo said Galaxy will fund construction of the three new casinos through the sale of about HK$1.9 billion in bonds and HK$1.1 billion in project financing. The rest of the funds will come from the cash flow of its existing casino business, though he didnt rule out seeking additional financing from investors in the future.

Despite taking on debt to pay for these investments, Lo said K Wah Construction still has plenty of room to borrow more, since its debt-to-equity ratio will only rise to about 20 percent, a relatively low level for a listed company, from 12 percent at the end of 2004.

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