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Betting on Singapore

Sep 25, 2007 7:24 AM

Las Vegas Sands Corp, the world’s largest casino operator by market value, is seeking a record loan in Singapore currency to fund construction of the nation’s first gambling house, three people familiar with the deal said.

The gaming firm hired eight banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc and locals DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and United Overseas Bank Ltd to arrange the S$5 billion loan package, according to the people, who declined to be identified because the information is private.

Following their success in Macau, Las Vegas Sands is betting the Asian market is only beginning to take off.

Regulated gambling including casinos in the Asia-Pacific market will expand 15.7 per cent a year to $30.3 billion in 2011, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Singapore will compete for Asian players with Macau, the Chinese city that reaped $7 billion, gaming revenue in 2006, surpassing the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s biggest casino market.

"Asia will contribute the most to growth of the global gaming industry, and market share here is important for gaming companies and for Las Vegas Sands," said Poh Huay Imm, Singapore-based equity specialist at Deutsche Bank AG’s private wealth management group. "Las Vegas Sands’ casinos in the US are cash cows and will help fund its Asian expansion."

Asia Pacific will by 2011 replace Europe, the Middle East and Africa as the second-biggest gaming market after the US, PricewaterhouseCoopers said in a June report.

The other four arranging banks are Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc and Citigroup Inc.

Casino revenue in Asia Pacific will double to $25.5 billion in 2011 from $12.1 billion in 2006, with 79 per cent of the growth generated in Macau and Singapore, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.