Malaysia's Genting to buy Las Vegas site for $350 mln in US push

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 Mon Mar 4, 2013 10:23pm EST

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (Reuters) - Malaysia's Genting Bhd said it would purchase an unfinished resort on the Las Vegas strip from Boyd Gaming Corp for $350 million, marking the Asian gaming group's first push into the U.S. gambling mecca.

The deal is also expected to give a boost to the Las Vegas economy, which was hit hard by a collapse in the housing market following the financial crisis.

Genting said it would build a hotel-casino resort on the 87-acre site of Boyd's uncompleted Echelon project, which was halted in 2008 during the financial crisis. The planned complex, Resorts World Las Vegas, will have 3,500 hotel rooms, 175,000 square feet of gambling space, and convention and luxury dining facilities, Genting said.

"The property represents one of the last major, developable sites on the Las Vegas strip, with a considerable frontage along the South Las Vegas boulevard and full entitlement to apply for a non-restricted gaming license," Genting said in an announcement to the stock exchange late on Monday.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandavol said in a statement that the resort would bring "several thousand" jobs to the state.

The property comprises several partially completed projects that have been suspended since 2008, including a hotel tower, convention centre and energy facility, Genting said.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Genting also wants to bring a live panda habitat, a replica of the Great Wall of China, and other Asia-themed attractions to the resort. A Genting spokeswoman in Kuala Lumpur was unable to immediately confirm the report.

Genting, which had cash reserves of 21.3 billion ringgit ($6.9 billion) as of Dec. 31, has been seeking to tap growth in other markets as its Asia business slows, and opened a New York casino in October 2011.

Subsidiary Genting Singapore PLC, Asia's second-largest casino operator by market value, reported last month a 6 percent fall in fourth-quarter core earnings as revenue slipped, hurt by a slowing local market.

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