• Melco Crown to delist in HK after Macau woes

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    HONG KONG: Casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment, a joint venture involving Australian billionaire James Packer, plans to delist its shares in Hong Kong after gambling hub Macau reported its first ever fall in casino revenues.

    In the Philippines, Melco partners with Belle Corp., a unit of SM Group of Companies in setting up a second casino in the 4-casino resort the government is developing on reclaimed land. The local group recently opened Novu Hotel in its City of Dreams project.

    Official figures published by the former Portuguese colony on Friday showed gaming revenues fell 2.6 percent year-on-year to 351.52 billion patacas ($44 billion) in 2014—the only drop since annual figures were first released in 2002.

    Hours later, Melco Crown—which owns Macau’s vast City of Dreams resort complex— said it would delist from the Hong Kong stock exchange “for reasons of cost and utility.”

    “Maintaining the listing . . . requires additional ongoing regulatory compliance obligations and such requirements involve significant additional costs,” the company said in a statement late Friday, adding that it did not see opportunities to raise additional equity.

    The company will retain its listing on the NASDAQ in the US, where its shares closed Friday down 4.88 percent at $24.16.

    Melco Crown Entertainment is a joint venture between Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho and James Packer, son of the late Australian media and gambling magnate, Kerry.

    The firm, with a market capitalization of close to $14 billion, owns Macau’s City of Dreams resort complex, which has 1,400 rooms across three hotels located next to major resorts including The Venetian.

    Macau is the only part of China where casino gambling is legal, and the industry is dependent on big spenders from the mainland.

    But high-rollers have been reined in by the anti-graft drive, which has seen Chinese President Xi Jinping vow to crack down on graft across all levels of officialdom as part of a campaign to curb lavish spending.

    AFP

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