Wynn Resorts files for HK IPO of Macau unit

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Las Vegas casino company Wynn Resorts has submitted an application to list its Macau unit on the Hong Kong stock exchange, sources said on Tuesday, hoping to raise between $500 million and $1 billion.

The move comes as Wynn rival Las Vegas Sands also seeks to tap the Hong Kong IPO market, which has experienced a recent revival in activity after standing moribund since late last year. Both gaming groups, saddled with debt after expansions coincided with the financial crisis, are hoping to boost valuations at home through a spin-off abroad.

Reuters reported last month that Wynn was reviving its Macau IPO plans, a process that began last year but was shelved when the markets plunged late in the fall.

UBS AG, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan have been mandated to handle Wynn’s Hong Kong listing. Las Vegas Sands hired Goldman Sachs to run the offering of its own Macau unit, Reuters reported in May, a deal expected to raise more than $3 billion.

In addition to the Asian equity market rally, fuelling the Macau deals is the goal of U.S. casino operators to monetize Macau assets to support struggling operations in Las Vegas.

Regional stock markets have staged a strong turnaround so far this year on investor optimism for a recovery in the global economy.

By tapping the Hong Kong IPO market, the companies hope to attain valuations for their Macau assets that will boost the valuations of their U.S. operations, bankers and analysts have said.

“They do need some money to pay down their debt in Las Vegas and they need the proceeds for further expansion in Macau,” said Aaron Fischer, CLSA’s head of Asian gaming research. “The valuation multiples will be higher in Hong Kong than Las Vegas. There’s certainly an appetite for their business in Macau. Investors will want to get involved.”

Macau is the world’s largest gaming market and analysts say it is recovering from the crisis faster than its U.S. counterpart.

The banks involved in the Wynn IPO declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Chris Lewis