July 8, 2009 / 6:14 AM / 8 years ago

Las Vegas Sands eyes $3-$4 billion fund raising

<p>Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson poses for a photo with its Marina Bay Sands Casino construction sites in the background after an interview with Reuters in Singapore July 8, 2009.Tim Chong</p>

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Las Vegas Sands (LVS.N), the world's largest casino firm, wants to raise $3-$4 billion and is considering several options including an IPO of its Macau assets in Hong Kong, Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson said on Wednesday.

"We are looking at a Hong Kong Stock Exchange listing, among 5 or 6 options," Adelson told Reuters Insider TV in an interview in Singapore, adding that the firm hopes to get a total of $3-4 billion through various fund raising initiatives.

Sands may also raise cash by selling stakes to private equity firms or getting construction companies involved in its projects to assemble their own financing, he added. He denied reports that the firm was considering a bond issue in the United States.

The global casino industry has been hit by a drop in leisure spending and Sands has cut staff in the United States and postponed construction projects in Macau to conserve cash. Analysts estimate the firm needs to raise about $1.5 to $2 billion to complete its developments in Macau.

Reuters reported in May that Sands had hired Goldman Sachs to look at a potential Hong Kong listing for its Macau operations and the firm planned to cut around 4,000 jobs or about 20 percent of its workforce in the Chinese territory.

Adelson, however, said the global economy appears to have bottomed and that the firm's Las Vegas casinos had exceeded budget projections for May and June. The Macau properties have also performed better than the industry average in terms of visitations and revenues.

"We are at the trough of the recession... From this point on, I think we are going to see an improvement," he said.

Adelson said Sands has put on hold plans to sell the retail component of its Venetian casino in Macau because of the weak financial markets, and it hoped to resume construction in Macau at the end of 2009.

Sands owns and operates the Venetian and Palazzo casinos and Sands Expo in Las Vegas as well as the Sands Casino Resort Bethelem in eastern Pennsylvania.

In Macau, it owns the Venetian Macau and Sands Macau, and is involved in the development of several casino-resorts on a piece of reclaimed land known as the Cotai Strip.

DELAY IN SINGAPORE

Turning to Singapore, where Sands is currently building a waterfront casino on the edge of the central business district, Adelson said the Marina Bay Sands is now expected to open in either January or February next year instead of at end-2009 as earlier announced.

The Singapore casino will cost $5.25 to $5.5 billion against an original forecast of $3.2 billion when the project was conceived, and will go into operation at a time when tourism is shrinking.

According to government data, visitor arrivals in Singapore fell for the 12th consecutive month in May, dropping 13 percent from a year ago as the global recession and outbreak of H1N1 flu discouraged travel.

Singapore legalized casino gaming in 2005 as part of an ambitious plan to make the city state more exciting and to double annual visitor arrivals to 17 million by 2015.

A second casino is being built by Genting Singapore (GENS.SI), a unit of Malaysia's Genting Bhd (GENT.KL), on the resort-island on Sentosa which is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2010.

Reporting by Kevin Lim and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Valerie Lee

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