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Best of Liz Benston

Gaming Guru

Liz Benston

Regal, Las Vegas Sands to Join Forces in Macau

14 March 2005

LAS VEGAS -- Hong Kong hotel company Regal Hotels International Holdings Ltd. said Friday it entered into an agreement with Las Vegas Sands Corp. to develop a casino resort in Macau.

The hotel company potentially joins a list of at least five companies that have signed letters of intent with Las Vegas Sands to build casino resorts resorts along the "Cotai Strip," a waterfront area in Macau that would be developed similar to the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Sands President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Weidner told the Sun last year that the company was negotiating with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., Marriott International Inc., Four Seasons Hotels Inc., InterContinental Hotels Group Plc and Hard Rock International to operate casinos at the resorts.

Deutsche Bank Securities analyst Marc Falcone said Hilton Hotels Corp. has also been widely discussed as a potential partner.

Las Vegas Sands officials, who will be hosting investors in Macau this week, could not be reached for comment.

Las Vegas Sands last year disclosed an agreement with Hong Kong-based investment group Far East Consortium International Ltd. to build and operate a 140,000-square-foot casino and showroom under a lease from Far East. The hotel, which is expected to have 2,000 rooms and up to 3,000 upon further demand, would be operated by an as-yet undisclosed hotel company.

In Friday's statement, Regal said the agreement calls for a resort with up to 1,500 rooms in the first phase and another 1,500 rooms -- together with an expanded casino, retail and entertainment complex -- in the second phase.

The first phase of construction, which would include the hotel, casino, showroom, conference space, retail area and entertainment, would break ground this year and open in late 2007. Las Vegas Sands would operate the casino under a lease agreement with the hotel company, Regal said.

The memorandum of understanding isn't legally binding and doesn't constitute a definitive agreement, the company said.