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MGM Mirage looks to Asia for expansion

8 June 2009

Las Vegas Sun

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A second Las Vegas-based gaming, hotel and entertainment company is looking to expand in Asia -- despite financial challenges for its American operations.

MGM Mirage is in talks with three investor groups to develop a casino in Taiwan, an executive said this week.

"I have a desire to aggressively expand in Asia. It's the most exciting gaming market in the world," Lloyd Nathan, MGM Mirage president of global gaming development, told Reuters at an industry conference.

Reuters said he declined to name the three groups for the project in Taiwan, an island nation working to allow casino gambling. Nathan said all were Taiwanese and would fully fund the development with MGM Mirage acting as operator.

Reuters quoted him as saying MGM Mirage was also looking at potential projects in Japan and the Philippines. MGM Mirage already has a stake in a casino in Macau -- a market likely to compete with the development of a gaming market in Taiwan.

An executive with Harrah's Entertainment Inc., also facing financial challenges, said at the same conference this week it's looking to expand in Asia as well.

MGM Mirage this spring completed extraordinary efforts to finalize financing for its CityCenter project in Las Vegas and to bolster its balance sheet with the issuance of $2.5 billion in debt and equity.

The capital raise was needed because MGM Mirage was having difficulty serving its $14 billion in debt obligations as the recession reduced net revenue by 20 percent in the first quarter to $1.5 billion. Including a $190 million gain on the sale of the Treasure Island, MGM Mirage earned $105.2 million in the quarter, down from $118.3 million in 2008's first quarter.

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