* Sands China shares sold at HK$55.45 each, 4.8 pct discount
to Tuesday's close
* Waddell & Reed buys 16.96 mln Las Vegas Sands shares
* Las Vegas Sands stake gets international gaming exposure
(Adds final price of selldown, Waddell purchase of Las Vegas
Sands stake, context)
By Elzio Barreto and Farah Master
HONG KONG, May 28 U.S. fund manager Waddell &
Reed Financial Inc said Wednesday it raised $1.38
billion by selling its remaining stake in Macau-based Sands
China Ltd, and shifted most of its holdings to parent Las Vegas
Sands to boost its global gaming exposure.
The sell-down comes as Macau gaming stocks face pressure due
to a raft of negative news, after clocking a scorching pace of
growth over the past two years.
Among investors' concerns is a decision by authorities in
the world's largest gambling market to urge banks to restrict
the use of China's state-backed bank card to buy luxury goods in
The restrictions could make it harder for Macau's
mass-market visitors to obtain cash to gamble, while tighter
liquidity in Macau's junket market could put pressure on gaming
revenues in the next few months, analysts have said.
Waddell & Reed sold 192.64 million Sands China
shares at HK$55.45 each, equivalent to a discount of 4.8 percent
to Tuesday's closing price, according to a term sheet of the
deal seen by Reuters. The shares were marketed in a range of
HK$55.27 to HK$55.90 each.
The stock - which has posted a five-fold increase since
listing in Dec. 2009 - was down 2.7 percent in early Wednesday
The firm said in a statement it bought 16.96 million shares
of Sands China parent Las Vegas Sands Corp., without
disclosing the price it paid for the shares. At Tuesday's
closing price of $75.94 the Las Vegas Sands purchase would be
valued at about $1.3 billion.
Waddell & Reed expects to benefit from better liquidity of
Las Vegas Sands shares and has "a positive view on the
investment outlook of Las Vegas Sands and its ability to
generate revenue in China and elsewhere around the world,"
according to the statement, distributed by Business Wire.
Las Vegas Sands, the world's largest casino operator by
market capitalisation, is made up of earnings from Sands' Las
Vegas, Singapore and Macau operations, while Sands China is only
the company's Macau business.
By shifting their holdings into the parent company,
investors get exposure to global opportunities such as Japan
where Sands is hoping to take advantage of the proposed
liberalisation of casinos.
Sands has said it is also targeting other Asian countries
such as South Korea and Vietnam for casino developments.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch was sole bookrunner of
the Sands China selldown.
(Reporting by Elzio Barreto and Farah Master; Editing by