UPDATE 1-Melco Crown Philippines prices share sale at top of range

Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:41pm EDT

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(Adds total Philippine share sales this year, offer details)

MANILA, April 24 (Reuters) - Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, a unit of Macau-based Melco Crown Entertainment, has priced its share sale at the top of an indicative range to raise $377 million, one of its underwriters said on Wednesday.

Melco Philippines' offer price of 14 pesos apiece reflects a discount of more than 10 percent to the stock's closing price of 15.66 pesos apiece on Tuesday.

The issue brings to $2.7 billion the total value of share sales to the public in just the first four months of the year, according to Thomson Reuters data. That exceeds the Philippines' $2.53 billion record sales from IPOs and follow-on deals for all of 2012 and underscores the emergence of the Southeast Asian nation as a top investment destination in the region.

The Philippines is Southeast Asia's best performing stock market this year with gains of more than 20 percent.

Melco Philippines, a unit of Melco Crown Entertainment run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, is selling a total of around 1.10 billion shares, including over-allotment, UBS said.

UBS managed the offer with Citigroup. UBS tops equity underwriting in Southeast Asia so far in 2013, and has led the league tables in the Philippines for a third year in a row, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Melco Crown Entertainment had signed a deal last month with Philippine leisure firm Belle Corp, partly owned by the country's richest man Henry Sy Sr., to develop and operate a $1 billion casino resort set to open in mid-2014 in the Entertainment City complex along Manila Bay.

That project is Melco's first casino outside its home base Macau and one of the biggest Chinese investments in the Philippines.

The share offer was more than six times oversubscribed with 140 investors, nearly half of them coming from Asia. U.S.-based investors comprised 37 percent and the rest were from Europe.

About 72 percent of the offer was taken up by long-term and anchor investors.

Melco Philippines competes with Bloomberry Resorts Corp which was the first to operate a casino-resort at Entertainment City. Bloomberry shares were 3 percent weaker on Wednesday morning and have lost 11 percent so far this year. (Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; additional reporting by Elzio Barretto in Hong Kong; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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