* Net income $104.9 mln ahead of $103.3 mln estimate
* Philippines casino to open in 2014
* Macau gaming revenue expected to pick up in 2013
HONG KONG, Nov 7Melco Crown Entertainment
posted a 4 percent drop in third quarter
revenues due to lower volume in Macau's lucrative VIP market
that depends on high-stake gamblers.
The Macau casino venture, owned by Australian billionaire
James Packer and Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho, on Wednesday
reported net income slipped 7 percent to $104.9 million from
$113.3 million last year.
Melco is one of six licensed operators in the world's
largest gambling market.
The decline year on year, which was better than a forecast
$103.3 million according to Thomson Reuters data, was due to an
amortisation of land use rights at the company's upcoming Macau
casino known as Studio City and development costs for its
Philippines casino project.
Macau, an hour from Hong Kong by ferry and the only place
in China where casino-gambling is legal, has been hurt by
slowing Chinese economic growth. This has particularly been the
case for the high-roller VIP segment, on which casinos rely for
more than 70 percent of their overall revenue.
High volumes in Melco's mass market segment helped to offset
weakness in the lucrative VIP segment.
Ho, son of Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho, said on a
conference call to analysts he expected gambling revenue growth
to pick up next year once the new Chinese leadership transition
takes place, expecting more flexible measures on sectors such as
Macau's October gambling revenue hit a record, government
data showed this week.
Melco, the owner of the strobe-lit City of Dreams casino and
sleek Alteria property, is on track to open its Studio City
resort in mid 2015, Ho said.
The company on October 25. said it finalised plans for its
foray into the Philippines, which sees Packer and Ho join forces
with one of that country's wealthiest men -- Henry Sy, the owner
of local conglomerate SM Investments.
Melco's total investment exposure will be close to $600
million for the project. Melco is currently the only Macau
casino operator venturing into the Philippines.
Analysts polled on Thomson Reuters Eikon remain bullish on
Melco with seven rating it a "strong buy" or "buy". There are
two "hold" ratings and no sell ratings.
Melco will embark on roadshows to showcase a potential
senior global high-yield bond with an indicative size of $825
million, slightly larger than the $800 million expected, Thomson
Reuters IFR reported on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Mike Nesbit)