* Goldman estimates proceeds in excess of $300 mln
* MGM shares rise 5.4 percent (Clarifies to show that $300 million estimate applies to MGM share of offering in paragraph 9, adds no comment from MGM)
HONG KONG/LOS ANGELES, Sept 27 (Reuters) - MGM Resorts International (MGM.N) said its joint venture in the booming Asian enclave of Macau, MGM China, has filed for an anticipated initial public offering in Hong Kong, sending its shares up more than 5 percent on Monday.
The Las Vegas-based casino operator, in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, gave no details of the timing or terms of the proposed IPO.
Filings are typically followed by a listing hearing in Hong Kong within four to six weeks, although times can vary.
MGM Chief Executive Jim Murren said in August that the company expected to take the unit public in Hong Kong sometime later in 2010 — ideally after the venture had cleared the way for a second Macau property.
MGM operates its sole Macau casino as a 50-50 joint venture with Pansy Ho, daughter of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho.
“This is potentially a more difficult public offering than some might expect,” said David Bain, an analyst at Sterne, Agee & Leach. “The Macau marketplace remains extremely strong, but they (MGM) own 50 pct of the lowest market share in Macau.”
He said MGM is believed to be in discussions with the Macau government to finalize construction plans for another casino resort in an area known as the Cotai Strip.
Officials at MGM Resorts declined to comment beyond the regulatory filing.
Goldman Sachs analyst Steve Kent estimated on Monday that a Hong Kong offering could generate proceeds to MGM of more than $300 million.
“We view an IPO of MGM Macau as an important liquidity event for MGM and, while not unexpected, we think today’s filing is a positive step forward for MGM’s shares,” Kent said in a research note.
Despite a heavy debt load, MGM has been able to maneuver through the recent financial crisis, but it will have additional billions in debt coming due over the next few years and management has vowed to reduce the company’s leverage.
An MGM listing would follow IPOs by affiliates of U.S.-based rivals Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O) and Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVS.N), which spun off part of their Macau assets last year to form Hong Kong-listed Wynn Macau Ltd (1128.HK) and Sands China Ltd (1928.HK), respectively. Sands China raised $2.5 billion in its IPO, while Wynn Macau raised $1.87 billion.
Bain at Sterne, Agee estimated that an MGM China IPO would be priced at between 8 and 10 times earnings, compared with multiples of 12 to 14 for the Wynn and Sands’ offerings.
The IPO would make the MGM Macau casino the last of Macau’s six gambling licensees to go public.
Shares of MGM Mirage rose 58 cents to close at $11.25 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Doug Young, Kennix Chim and Deena Beasley; Editing by David Cowell, Gerald E. McCormick and Bernard Orr)