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Rod Smith
 

MGM Mirage Calls Reports of Imminent Deal with Macau Magnate Premature

11 February 2004

LAS VEGAS and MACAU -- MGM Mirage confirmed Tuesday it still has its sights on developing a new casino in Macau, but said reports over the weekend of an imminent deal between Stanley Ho and the Las Vegas gaming giant were premature.

MGM Mirage spokesman Alan Feldman said reports a $566 million casino development deal had been signed between Ho's companies and MGM Mirage were in error.

"We have made no secret of our interest in Macau and have previously confirmed that we have had several conversations with (Stanley Ho's daughter) Pansy Ho concerning a possible casino development in Macau. These discussions are continuing," he said.

Newspaper reports in the South China Morning Post had said MGM Mirage would develop a casino with Ho's Sociedade de Jogos de Macau and that Shun Tak Holdings Ltd., another Ho company, would run the joint venture.

Shun Tak released a statement Tuesday denying the deal and saying neither of Ho's companies nor any of their subsidiaries or associated companies have "any plans to be involved or have any shareholding in such a casino joint venture."

Deutsche Bank analyst Marc Falcone said the company's denials were "somewhat surprising to us at this point given the lengthy discussions we believe have actively taken place over the last 12 months."

However, he said it is likely the deal itself hinges on the passage of new legislation allowing casinos in Macau to issue credit to customers, although MGM Mirage executives have previously suggested this was not a critical near-term issue.

Trading in shares of Shun Tak were suspended on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Tuesday at the company's request.

Reports Tuesday out of Macau said the executive council of the Macau Assembly had approved the credit legislation considered critical for Nevada companies entering the China market, and that it has been submitted to the full Macau Assembly.

"We believe this is a formality but could still take four weeks to six weeks to complete," Falcone said.

MGM Mirage, which owns and operates the Bellagio, MGM Grand, Treasure Island and The Mirage, had tried to win one of Macau's three casino concessions but lost to rivals Steve Wynn and a group including Sheldon Adelson, owner of The Venetian.

Wynn and Adelson are now in the process of developing casinos on Macau, a popular island tourist destination off the coast of China.

MGM shares closed Tuesday at $42.30, down 31 cents or 0.73 percent on the New York Stock Exchange. The company's shares are up 13.5 percent for the year.

MGM Mirage Calls Reports of Imminent Deal with Macau Magnate Premature is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.