LV Sands to pump $8 billion into Asia

Jul 25, 2006 4:27 AM

Las Vegas Sands is planning to invest more than $8 billion in its casino, leisure and convention facilities in Macao and on a neighboring island over the next four to six years, company officials said last week.

The size of the investment, double that reported originally, is part of the Las Vegas-based gaming company’s plans to change the face of the former Portuguese enclave’s tourism industry from offering one-day gambling trips to becoming a longer-stay destination.

"These development opportunities are contingent upon approvals by government at several levels and will occur in phases over time as the markets develop and mature," said Bill Weidner, Las Vegas Sands president and chief operating officer.

The company’s plans for Macao parallel its success in Singapore, where it has won the rights to build and operate the $3.6 billion Marina Bay casino complex, scheduled to open in 2009.

Analysts say both investments should allow it to dominate Asia’s two largest casino markets: the greater China market, which Merrill Lynch this year estimated to be worth $7.3 billion in sales, and the $3.8 billion south-east Asian market.

Weidner said the company’s total investments and turnover would triple as a result of its initiatives in Asia.

"Most of the company’s investments and revenues will be in Asia," he said.

In Singapore and Macao, the company is seeking to emulate its business model in Las Vegas — The Venetian hotel/casino and Sands Expo and Convention Center — where non-gaming revenues last year, at $9.2 billion, outstripped casino income of $6.3 billion.

In Macao, the company founded by Sheldon Adelson plans to spend $3 billion each in two phases on the Cotai Strip. The company is also in talks to develop Heng Qin Island, a Chinese island bordering the Cotai Strip section of Macau.

Currently, LV Sands has the only Nevada-run casino operating in Asia — Sands Macau.

It is currently building a Macau Venetian on the Cotai Strip.