Monday, December 21, 2009

Las Vegas Sands casino in S’pore faces further delays

A Las Vegas Sands integrated resort (IR) may not be Singapore’s first to open next year after the developer said on Monday it would be operational only in April instead of February as previously announced.

Las Vegas Sands chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson said construction of the Marina Bay Sands casino has been slowed down by the monsoon rains and financial problems facing some subcontractors.

‘We’re assuming we’re going to open between April 1 to 30,’ Mr Adelson told a press conference in Singapore.

‘We’re here for the long-term, we expect to have this opened for decades and that’s what counts,’ he said, describing the new opening target as only a ‘minor delay’.

Singapore’s other casino complex, Resorts World at Sentosa, is expected to open in phases starting in the first quarter of 2010, a spokesman from developer Genting International told AFP.

When Mr Adelson was last in Singapore in July, he said Marina Bay Sands, which includes huge exhibition and convention facilities, was likely to open in either January or February.

The US$5.5-billion Marina Bay Sands casino was originally scheduled to open at the end of 2009 but the project was first delayed due to a number of factors, including material and labour shortages.

Asked about the earnings projections for the Singapore project, he said his company expects about US$1 billion annually before deducting interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation expenses.

‘The people in the market have come out to between US$400 million and US$800 million,’ he said.

‘We think it will be in excess of a billion annually.’

Las Vegas Sands won the right to build the IR in 2006, one year after the republic gave the go ahead for legalised casino gambling.

Malaysia’s Genting conglomerate won the bid for a second IR which it named Resorts World at Sentosa.

Singapore hopes the two IRs will boost its tourism appeal and draw more visitors to the island which relies mainly on man-made attractions to entice tourists.

Las Vegas Sands’s partly finished development on Macau’s Cotai strip – put on hold after the economic crisis hit last year – could be completed within the next five years, Mr Adelson was quoted as saying in an interview with CNBC.

Sands raised US$2.5 billion in a Hong Kong initial public offering last month, part of which will be used to kickstart the stalled project.

About 11,000 construction jobs were lost when Sands halted construction, dealing a blow to the former Portuguese colony.

Source: Business Times, 21 Dec 2009

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