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Packer Has to Ante Up

23 November 2005

MACAU – As reported by the New Zealand Stuff: "Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd's James Packer will have to up the ante to stay in the game to build Singapore's first casino, his controversial business partner in Macau has indicated.

"Lawrence Ho, son of Macau's legendary casino tycoon Stanley Ho, said his Hong Kong and Macau-based company Melco International Development could lift its planned outlay of S$2.5 billion (NZ$2.14 billion) to counter more lavish bids expected from American casino groups.

"The Singapore Government has said it wants architects such as IM Pei and Daniel Libeskind to design an 'iconic' casino that will rank with buildings such as Sydney's Opera House and Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum. The United States gambling empires Las Vegas Sands, MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment are among the eight potential contestants for the first Singaporean casino concession that purchased bid documents by the close of deadlines last week. They are expected to make bids in the order of S$5 billion.

"Melco and PBL formed a joint venture a year ago in which Melco takes a 60 per cent role in Macau projects such as the proposed NZ$1.5 billion City of Dreams hotel-casino, while PBL is the 60 per cent shareholder in casino ventures elsewhere in Asia.

"…So far, Mr Packer's partnership with Melco has yielded investments in the small cafe-style gaming machine centre known as Mocha Slot, which has about 135 electronic table games and slot machines and cost about NZ$7.5 million to set up."

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