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PBL Looking for Oriental Jewel

14 June 2004

MACAU – As reported by the West Australian: "Spotted hopping into a cavalcade of cars outside the plush Mandarin Oriental Hotel in this former Portuguese colony last week: James Packer, executive chairman of media and gambling group Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd, owners of Melbourne's Crown Casino.

"Mr Packer was there with Crown chief Rowan Craigie, impeccable sources confirmed in Sydney, and PBL's former chief executive Peter Yates had made a separate visit a week earlier, not that the company was about to acknowledge the visits.

"…The attention being paid to Macau suggests that PBL and its main income earner, Crown, are already looking beyond the slow-moving $686 million bid for Perth's Burswood Casino, which has been rejected by the target's board and may well lapse when the current offer expires on July 2.

"…Macau was now set to become the Las Vegas of the East, with the only legal casinos operating anywhere in Greater China, Sands owner Sheldon Adelson proclaimed, noting that three billion people lived within a five-hour flight.

"…If it works, Macau's transformation could have a profound effect on the competitive position of Crown Casino, which has so far been highly successful in attracting high-rolling gamblers from China and other parts of Asia.

"Crown might have to look for a foothold in Macau. PBL sources said last week: 'We have always said we would have to look at being in Asia at the appropriate time.'…"

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