* Company could net $773 million from co-op sales
* Buyers likely to be VIP gamblers, affluent visitors
* Government OK allows new concept for market-analyst
(Adds analyst comments, details on deal and share info)
HONG KONG, June 5 Macau casino Sands China Ltd
, controlled by U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson, has
received approval to transfer land rights for an apartment-hotel
tower that allows it to sell shares in a property in the world's
largest gambling center.
The company has been trying since 2008 to make money from
the 30-storey sandstone coloured block on Macau's Cotai strip.
The approval from the government paves the way for Sands to earn
close to HK$6 billion ($773.08 million) in net proceeds
according to analyst estimates.
Sands China, who announced the approval on Wednesday, will
sell shares that give prospective buyers' rights to an apartment
rather than the buyer purchasing the flat outright. This "co-op
fashion" is in compliance with local rules as casino companies
are not allowed to sell property in Macau.
Buyers would likely be VIP customers or affluent visitors to
the Chinese gambling hub.
Grant Govertsen of Union Gaming in Macau said the apartment
tower's area of 750,000 square feet would likely be sold at a
price of HK$10,000 per square foot.
"I don't think this means they can sell tomorrow, but it
certainly indicates that the government is clearly willing to
work with them on this to be able to sell co-op style
apartments, which is a new concept for the market," he said.
The apartments will be branded and serviced by the Four
Seasons Hotel. Sands currently operates the Venetian and Four
Seasons Resorts next to the apartment tower.
Shares in Sands China were little changed after the
announcement, down 2.3 percent in line with the broader market
($1 = 7.7612 Hong Kong dollars)
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Matt Driskill)