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Old February 4th, 2012, 06:59 PM   #221
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Sands China profit soared in late 2011
03/02/2012
Macau Daily Times

Local gaming operator Sands China reported a 44 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit. Even though the company saw its market share drop it was able to squeeze more money out of its existing casinos.

In the last quarter of 2011 Sands China’s revenue rose 22 percent to MOP 10.6 billion from MOP 8.7 billion a year earlier. This growth is far below the industry average of 33.4 percent in the three-month period, which means the operator lost some of its market share.

But, on the other hand, Sands China’s operational performance – earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) – increased faster, by 29.2 percent, to MOP 3.4 billion in the fourth quarter.

More importantly, the company was able to turn more than a third (33.4 percent) of its profit into EBITDA, “a market-leading” margin, the operator stressed.

But the biggest rise came in net income, which rose to MOP 2.4 billion from MOP 1.7 billion a year earlier, bringing its profit for the year to MOP 9 billion. That was higher than the MOP 8.5 billion mean estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The results are encouraging,” Philip Tulk, head of Asian conglomerates and gaming research at Royal Bank of Scotland, told Bloomberg. “The numbers continue to be pretty strong, despite concern about slowdown in China,” Michael Paladino, head of gaming, lodging and leisure at Fitch Ratings, agreed.

As usual the company’s flagship property Venetian accounted for the biggest slice of its earnings, MOP 2.3 billion, up by 20.2 percent from the same quarter of 2010. On the contrary the operator’s first casino, Sands, saw its EBITDA drop by six percent to just MOP 701.3 million.

Yet the biggest surprise came from the Plaza casino at Four Seasons, where earnings grew more than five-fold to a record MOP 503.2 billion. Sands China claims the increase is due to investments made on the VIP gaming sector.

Expansion hopes

Last month the operator returned to the second spot in the market share ranking with an 18.5 percent cut, overtaking rival Galaxy Entertainment. Sociedade de Jogos de Macau retained the top place with a 27 percent share.

Melco Crown Entertainment was in fourth with a 12.5 percent quota, similar to the one secured by Wynn Macau. MGM Macau came last with a share of a little over 10 percent.
And Sands China chairman Sheldon Adelson believes “a re-affiliation with Macau's most important gaming promoters can help drive our market share about 25 percent or even higher than the previous year,” he said at an earnings call.
Sands China is developing another casino resort to add to its existing properties, the Venetian, Four Seasons and Sands.

The first phase of Sands Cotai Central is on track to open in about eight weeks, the company said yesterday.

The resort “represents an important next step to the maturation of Macau as a leisure and business destination,” Adelson said. “The upcoming property, Sands Cotai Central, is going to draw new customers,” Tulk agreed.

And the US tycoon seems ready to expand even further in the territory. “We have applied to the government and submitted drawings for about a 4,000-[hotel]-room [Cotai] lot 3 development,” he recalled.

“We're going to make a mass market [casino], plus a separate tower for VIP play on lot 3. And, so far, we're getting positive reaction on it,” Adelson said. “It'll be a thematic property and we lead the pack because we already own and paid for this lot, so we have the right to put the building up as soon as possible.”

Las Vegas Sands, Sands China’s U.S.-based parent, yesterday reported a 17 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit. But the company is increasingly dependant on its Macau operations, after its Las Vegas casinos reported a 2.9 percent drop in revenues.

No slowdown

Sands China rose 4.9 percent to close at HKD 27.75 in Hong Kong. The company’s stock has surged 23.9 percent this year, outperforming the benchmark Hang Seng index’s 11.8 percent gain.

Galaxy Entertainment Group led the gains of Macau casino operators as investors expect it will “deliver strong earnings as Sands China has solid fourth quarter results,” Victor Yip, a Hong Kong based analyst at UOB Kay Hian, told Bloomberg.
“We expect to see that across the board,” Michael Paladino said.

Wynn Resorts will report its fourth quarter results today (Macau time). Analysts expect the casino operator to report earning of USD 1.28 per share, up by 40.7 percent year-on-year, and revenue of USD 1.35 billion, up by 8.9 percent.

But the market is particularly looking for insight into how Wynn will solve a dispute with major shareholder Kazuo Okada over the use of funds, which include a donation to the University of Macau.

On an earnings call, Adelson said he sees no slowdown in Macau, which surpassed the Las Vegas Strip as the world’s biggest casino revenue hub in 2006.

“We are essentially seeing nothing that would indicate that Macau and Singapore will not continue on their present paths upward,” he said on the company’s conference call.

Tulk expects Macau’s revenue growth to slow to 15 percent to 20 percent in 2012 as high-stakes gamblers are likely to find it harder to raise credit. “The growth will come from the mass market,” he said.

Michael Paladino also believes gaming revenue growth will be “nothing like we’ve seen in the last couple of years” and should drop to around 20 percent this year. “Anything bigger than that would be considered very positive.”
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Old February 6th, 2012, 01:06 PM   #222
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Two Cotai grants to be approved
06/02/2012 09:20:00
Macau Daily Times

Two of three Cotai land grant applications could be approved within this year, Lands and Public Works Bureau (DSSOPT) director Jaime Carion said on Friday.

The official said three gaming operators have applied to develop resorts in Cotai. However the bureau may only be able to complete and approve two of the three applications by the end of 2012.

Carion stressed that the approval process of these projects was difficult, especially when it comes to the calculation of land premiums, overall construction area and fire safety hazards.

“Fire safety regulations must be followed strictly. There can’t be any loopholes. The gaming operator had some adjustments regarding this, but in the end they made a decision,” he said, quoted by TDM News.

“In terms of the proposal the operators submitted to the government, they have to be do-able technically, architecturally and legally – then we enter the approval process,” Carion explained.

Gaming operators Wynn Macau, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) and MGM China have all applied for a land concession in Cotai.

Last September, Wynn announced they had agreed to pay a MOP 1.55 billion premium to get approximately 20.6 hectares of land, located next to City of Dreams resort and the Macau University of Science and Technology campus, but the government moved quickly to clarify that the deal was not yet settled.

In May last year, chairman and chief executive officer of Wynn Resorts, Steve Wynn, told local media the company would start construction of the project as soon as the land was granted. The cost of the new project in Macau is expected to exceed MOP 20 billion and open within four or five year’s time.

Vacant plots

Last year MGM China identified a site of approximately 17.8 acres (0.07 square kilometres) in Cotai but did not disclose its location. The site that MGM is eyeing is almost three times smaller than the plot targeted by Wynn.

As for SJM, chief executive officer Ambrose So Shu Fai said last December that the land grant was approved in principle but the operator had not received any detail on the premium payment.

After the concession is complete SJM is set to diversify its business with a bigger investment in non-gaming. The company will invest about USD 2 billion (MOP 16 billion) in its Cotai project.

SJM had applied for a piece of land of some 70,000 square metres located next to Macau Dome.

Concerning the 48 undeveloped plots whose concession contracts have already expired and are at risk of being taken back, Carion said the DSSOPT has already finished studying and analyzing these cases and are currently consulting other legal departments to see if further analysis is needed.

In addition, Carion reiterated that the government would adjust land premiums based on market demand. He added that he’s confident the revised Land Law will be submitted to the Legislative Assembly within 2012.

Long-term views

Lawmakers have regularly complained that the premium paid by concessionaires of public land was too low but the Real Estate Development Association thinks there is no need to adjust current land premiums – at least not before 2013 or 2014.

“If property prices do go down, how will the land premiums be adjusted? Will it be every year?” asked the president of the Real Estate Development Association, Lok Wai Dak.

“I think adjusting land premiums is only part of the strategy to market adjustments,” he said, quoted by TDM News. Lok added that only a new Land Law can maintain a balanced real estate market.

Meanwhile the president of the Association of Property Agents and Realty Developers warned that the special stamp duty is also not a long-term solution for the soaring housing prices.

Ung Choi Kun admitted that the market has cooled down after the government introduced the new measure last June. But the lawmaker believes the market is bound to lag and therefore it won’t have an impact on property prices.

“When public housing can meet the people’s needs and start to stabilise, the SAR government should not use temporary measures like the special stamp duty to curb real estate prices,” he said, quoted by TDM News.
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Old February 8th, 2012, 07:45 AM   #223
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Shop owners conditional support to ‘Three Lamps’ plan
08/02/2012 10:44:00
Macau Daily Times

The authority plans to redevelop the “Three Lamps” area, including designating the whole area as a pedestrian zone. Shop owners in the district expressed their support for the initiative after meeting officials from the municipal authority, under the condition that they are allowed to continue selling commodities outside their shops.

The Macau Association of Shopkeepers (MAS) expressed their conditional support for the redevelopment plan after meeting Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau officials earlier this week.

MAS President, Ng Fu Keong, told Macau Daily Times yesterday that they raised several conditions with the officials during their meeting. They include the re-issue of so-called “doorway license”, that is a virtual extension of shop area by selling commodities on the public spaces outside their shops.

The government has been issuing the license to them in the past six years, until October last year when they were not renewed and municipal officers started fining shop-owners for putting goods outside, while allowing hawkers to continue selling goods in public places outside these shops.

Ng said the authority expressed preliminary consent to consider re-issuing the licenses, which he thought was a virtual agreement to grant them the license again. After this foremost prerequisite was met, he said, the association gave its backing to the plan.

The other conditions included same rights for hawkers and shops in using public areas, but hawkers should not block the doorway of shops. In addition, the areas that are not occupied by hawkers should remain empty.
Another important prerequisite was that no works be started before shopkeepers, hawkers, the government and the public struck an agreement over the plan. MAS also asked the authority to preserve the traditional outlook and profile of the area during the redevelopment. The authority pledged to consider these conditions and further consult shop-owners in the district.

Ng said the shop-owners actually have friendly relations with hawkers. He described the relations between the two as “interdependent partners”. The Macau Hawkers Association, meanwhile, could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to his observations and exchanges with the local community, Ng said the majority of the neighborhood residents favored the redevelopment, which they hoped would bring better hygiene conditions and safer road conditions to the whole district.
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Old February 12th, 2012, 05:15 PM   #224
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Real supply of new flats under 500 annually
09/02/2012 09:56:00
Macau Daily Times

For the next three years the real supply of new residential units will remain around 500 a year, as many flats under construction have already been sold and developers still waiting for the review of the special stamp duty, Jones Lang LaSalle wrote.

In its Macau annual property review, released yesterday, the company stressed that over 6,100 units are likely to be completed by the end of 2014. However close to 5,000 apartments have already been sold.

“This means that in fact the number of new available units will be about 500 each year. So on the supply side there won’t be much pressure” to push down residential prices, said Jones Lang LaSalle’s managing director in Macau, Gregory Ku.

On the other hand, he stressed that “developers are not at all eager to sell if the market is not attractive.” The special stamp duty introduced by the government last year has been “very effective” in cooling the property market, the expert conceded.

Ku doesn’t expect the government to abolish the duty before next year, when it will be reviewed. But he stressed that, “as an open economy, Macau should not rely on short-term measures” to regulate the market.

In addition, the low interest rates also make sure “the holding power of property owners is still strong,” said Jones Lang LaSalle’s head of residential, Jeff Wong.

With the Macau pataca loosely pegged to the US dollar, local interest rates are set to remain low for the next two years, after the US Federal Reserve announced it would keep interest rates at a record low at least through to mid-2013.

Less than 600 residential units are expected to be ready next year, the lowest number since 2002. And Jones Lang LaSalle doesn’t expect the situation to improve much after 2014.

“Even if a developer would announce the launch of a project today it would have to follow the new rules on pre-sales of unfinished residential properties,” Ku recalled. “It was possible to sell units after having the masterplan approved but in the future you will have to complete the foundations and fulfill other requirements,” he explained.

Stable prices

The chairman of the Macau Association of Economic Sciences, Joey Lao Chi Ngai, expects housing prices to drop “at least 15 to 30 percent” this year. But Jones Lang LaSalle disagrees. “We do not expect to see a major correction in the city’s residential prices,” said Wong.

“Tight supply in the pipeline” aside, financial institutions are also unwilling to loan money at will. “Banks are getting more risk-adverse and this is a global trend, particularly with [mainland] Chinese banks that are getting pressured by the government,” said Marcos Chan, Jones Lang LaSalle’s head of research for the Greater Pearl River Delta region.

One consequence will be a decrease in foreign investment coming into the Macau property market. Last year non-local buyers accounted for 12 percent of all transactions, down from 36 percent in 2006.

But outside investors are still “keeping a close eye on the local market,” Wong stressed. “They believe in the Macau success story and know that it’s difficult to find such a high GDP [Gross Domestic Product, total wealth created] growth anywhere else,” he added.

The situation is clearer in the residential rental market, which is expected to remain stable and prices to go up, said Wong. The growing number of non-resident workers and the new projects – including Sands Cotai Central and the Light Rapid Transit system – will fuel demand, he said.

With new international retail brands and service providers for the casino resort industry expected to come into Macau, office rental will also increase. In 2011, the percentage of vacant offices dropped to 18 percent, the lowest in six years, and three of the major office buildings in town reached an occupancy level of at least 85 percent.
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Old February 16th, 2012, 04:15 PM   #225
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Macao Water positive on recycling project
16/02/2012 09:24:00
Macau Daily Times

Macao Water is confident of the success of a water-recycling plan, as a measure to save water and promote a more environmentally friendly lifestyle in the territory.

During a media luncheon held yesterday, the deputy general manager of Macao Water said they were working closely with the government on the planning of recycling plants in Sec Pai Van and Hengqin Island.

Oscar Chu told Macau Daily Times the pilot project would produce water of good quality as an alternative source to supply the public.

“The water quality can be assured,” he said, adding that during an initial stage recycled water will be used only to flush toilets. “So there should not be a problem.”

Chu pointed to successful water recycling projects in neighbouring Hong Kong as well as countries such as Singapore and the US, saying that he expected to receive public support for this green initiative.

The executive conceded that recycling water might not be the cheapest method, but it was the most environmentally-friendly way to help the public to use fewer natural resources.

He admitted that the population might have a “psychological” fear of using recycled water. Chu stressed the need to educate the public and raise their awareness about saving water.

Asked if desalination is another option, he categorically rejected the idea, stressing that the quality of the seawater around the MSAR is not suitable for this process.

“Macau is at the outlet of the Pearl River Delta which means our seawater carries a lot of sediments, sands and is very muddy,” Chu said, resulting in a much more costly purification process. He said desalination is better for places with access to clean deep-sea water.

The executive also talked about the company’s operation, saying that last year’s results will be similar to the ones in 2010.

He said the costs of operation had been growing due to inflation, increase in human resources spending and investments plans. But Chu confirmed there would be no tariff hikes before 2014, as the government pledged earlier this month.

“We try not to pass on the added costs [to the users],” Chu said. “We’ll try to optimise our operations instead.” While committing to higher efficiency, he also warned “there is a limit to what we can do.”
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Old February 17th, 2012, 06:31 PM   #226
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Legal battle freezes wastewater overhaul
17/02/2012
Macau Daily Times

The Macau peninsula wastewater treatment plant “is in an appalling condition,” the current operator says, but the infrastructure’s modernisation project remains on hold as a legal dispute over the public tender rages on.

Last October, a consortium composed of local company CESL Asia, Portugal’s Indaqua and mainland China’s Tsing Hua Tong Fang took over the Areia Preta plant, after winning a tender for its operation, maintenance and modernisation.

But, more than four months later, the reconstruction plan has yet to take off, the chief executive officer of CESL Asia, António Trindade, confirmed to Macau Daily Times yesterday.

“The plant was not adequately treating the wastewater and it remains in a sorry situation,” he explained. As a result, the executive added, it’s too common for the surrounding buildings to be affected by rogue emissions.
With Areia Preta going through a shift from a mostly industrial area to a residential district, there have been growing complaints from residents over the impact of the wastewater plant.

Last October the deputy director of the Environmental Protection Bureau acknowledged the issue. “In fact we have planned to set up monitoring equipment around the wastewater treatment plant to check whether the smell from the plant is distressing nearby residents,” Vong Man Hung said at the time.

“I feel that the situation has improved a bit since we took over but it’s still far from being ideal,” Trindade stressed yesterday. “The fact is it’s impossible to fully solve this problem without launching the modernisation plan,” he added.

The project “worth hundreds of million patacas” includes an expansion of the plant’s capacity to treat 48,000 cubic metres per day and the introduction of a different method to treat the wastewater, a membrane bioreactor process.

No pay

The consortium, headed by CESL Asia, will operate the infrastructure until 2016 but “this plan should have been introduced as a matter of the utmost urgency and of public interest,” Trindade emphasised.

But a legal battle over two bidders that were wrongfully excluded from the public tender launched in March 2010 has made it impossible to start the construction works, he admitted. “It’s harming the development of the investment we had planned.”

In addition, the businessman revealed, the consortium has yet to receive a dime for the operation of the plant because the five-year contract worth MOP 604.9 million has not yet been signed.

“Obviously companies rely on payment for their services in order to survive. But luckily we [CESL Asia] are a company with credit in the market and a healthy financial condition,” he said.

However, Trindade has warned that the consortium is looking at the issue as “a temporary situation that should be solved as soon as possible, not only for the good of our company but also for the good of the Macau population”.

Local courts have decided that two bidders – a Sino-Belgium consortium led by Waterleau and Indian-Austrian company Va Tech Wabag – were excluded from the public tender for the plant operation due to a lack of documents or qualification.

The latest verdict from the Court of Final Appeal came on Wednesday, leaving the Administration with 30 days to enforce the court decision. Authorities could restart the public tender for the Areia Preta plant or try to reach a compensation deal with Waterleau and Wabag.

“The government respects the decision from the final court and the relevant legal staff is analysing the judgment from the court. At the same time, the government will continue to ensure the normal operation of the Macau peninsula wastewater treatment plant,” a Infrastructure Development Office told MDTimes.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 08:24 PM   #227
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Wei Zhao on TDM Talk Show: UM will be world-class university: Wei Zhao
17/02/2012 09:52:00
Macau Daily Times

University of Macau’s new campus on Hengqin Island is expected to be complete in ten months.

It will be a landmark not only for the history of higher education, but also for Macau itself– as Hengqin is the new symbol of Macau-Guangdong cooperation.

But the land for the new campus will cover more than 1 square kilometer – which is 20 times bigger than the current one.

UM’s Rector Wei Zhao is on the TDM Talk Show this week to talk about the challenges ahead in the university’s largest project yet.

Future plans

With exactly 307 days away from the ‘due date’, the clock is ticking and the world is watching as the University of Macau’s [UM] new campus is being built on Hengqin.

“We have several issues we are dealing with,” said the Rector. “Number one, (...) we are working with SAR government to provide information, especially [information on] requirements to [give] the designers and constructors. (...) on top of that we need to start to prepare to move the current campus (...) into the new campus - that of course if a big logistical challenge.”

But the Rector is ambitious.

Wei Zhao said the new campus will symbolize a new age not only for the university, but for the Macau SAR.

“This expansion, we also need to consider [adding] on new programs [and] capabilities, [so] UM can serve Macau better,” said Wei.

These new programs and capabilities include a new faculty of health sciences, which they are currently recruiting its dean.

But it’s the students’ lifestyle that will be truly ‘revolutionized’.

“We will have 12 residential colleges, and students’ campus activities will [become] a big deal. At this moment, we don’t have a sizeable campus [to do that],” said Wei.

When they have the space to accommodate the students to live on campus, Wei said he hopes university life won’t just be about the lectures and classes – students will be able to have fun with one and other. As of now, they are also recruiting people to work in the student affairs department.

‘4 in 1 model’

“We started the expansion two years ago,” said the Rector. “We would like the future Chief Executive to be [one of] our students, [one of our] former students. We want to provide the talents Macau needs. To achieve that, the students not only have to know a particular subject (...) he/she should also master certain management skills, leadership skills, communication skills. He/she should also have a broader knowledge, not only in his own field but perhaps in humanities and society.”

The result of this realization is the new ‘4 in 1 education model’.
“This basically integrates certain components, each of them has been tried successfully in other places, [and] now we’re putting it together,” said Wei.

First of all, the student will receive education in the major they have chosen for themselves. Then there will be a general education program, where training will be provided for students in a very ‘wide sense’, as Wei put it. Third part will be ‘peer and community education’, where the school will require students to educate themselves and amongst each other. 12 residential colleges will be built so students can integrate into their own community. Last but not least there will be ‘research and internship education’, where students will discover, develop and apply the knowledge they have learned.

Lack of staff

“For high-end academic staff (...) in a particular subject, we will have to go out for an ‘internationalized search’. There’s no doubt about it,” said Wei.

But the rector said the university will adopt different methods to address this issue.

“Macau people are quite smart. We have many capable people here, but there’re different job markets. (...) We’re trying to select a group who are willing to try different things,” said Wei.

Besides recruiting from the outside, Wei said they will also recruit from the inside.

“There are lots of faculty members in different stages of their careers, we want them to try different things.”

When asked about UM’s salary package not being attractive enough to lure top notch scholars and researchers to come work in the university, the Rector said ‘the answer is yes and no’. But he reassured that the government is aware of this and is supporting UM to change their salary system so they can be more competitive in the international job market.

World-class university

Although the rector has his ambitions, UM seems to be out of the radar when compared to other world class universities.

Wei agreed. But what he has is confidence.

“You’re right. At this moment we may or may not even be on the screen, depending on which radar you use. (...) We’re confident that given the tremendous support from the community and the government, also given the support from our students, former students and the parents, especially given the tremendous effort our staff both academic and administrative, one day we will become a world class university with very high level of academics. (...) But you’re right, we’re not there yet.”
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Old February 17th, 2012, 08:48 PM   #228
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LRT could reach Seac Pai Van
14/02/2012 09:39:00 Vítor Quintã
Macau Daily Times

The second phase of the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) system could reach Seac Pai Van, in Coloane, two Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) officials confirmed yesterday. Meanwhile the construction works for the downtown Taipa route will start soon, they promised.

The first phase of the LRT will include 21 stations in the Macau peninsula, Taipa and Cotai, stretching from the Border Gate to the Pac On ferry terminal. The system should be up and running by 2015, said GIT technical consultant Michael Lam Soi Hoi.

But authorities are already planning for the second phase, which could include a station in Seac Pai Van, he added. “Whether or not to launch a specific route, that will be up to the development of the area,” said Lam during a conference.

“We are still thinking about that issue and studying that possibility,” GIT deputy coordinator, Ho Cheong Kei, told journalists on the sidelines. “It’s an area that has the pandas and a public housing complex,” he recalled.
This Coloane area, which already hosts the Panda Habitat theme park, will include Macau’s biggest public housing complex with about 6,800 units and the luxury residential development One Oasis with 714 apartments.

The second phase will also include a link between the Border Gate and the Barra district that would close the LRT circuit, as well as two stations in the reclaimed plot A and the island that will host the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge border crossing, both rising to the peninsula’s northeast.

In addition the government is also planning for a possible extension of the LRT system to Hengqin Island, in connection with the future Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Mass Rapid Transit, said Michael Lam.

Productivity boost

Meanwhile the construction works for the first LRT route in downtown Taipa will start soon, Ho Cheong Kei said. This project will include five stations: Ocean Gardens, Macau Jockey Club, Macau Stadium and one between the old Taipa village and the Galaxy Macau resort.

“We have already launched the public tender. Right now we are overseeing preparatory works and planning for the necessary traffic reorganisation,” the GIT official explained. The office received 16 bids for the first route, ranging between MOP 489 million and MOP 2.99 billion.
The construction works were set to start in the first quarter of 2012. Asked if this schedule will be kept, Ho replied: “We will do everything in our reach to launch the works as soon as possible”.

Yesterday’s conference focused on discussing the models for railway operation and financial management implemented in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and Portugal.

“This is one of our biggest challenges,” Michael Lam stressed. Ho Cheong Kei agreed: “We are looking to learn from the experiences from other jurisdictions. I hope that within this year we will have an idea on what our management model will be.”

A China Academy of Urban Planning and Design (CAUPD) expert believes the Guangzhou model, where the government takes care of the planning and offers financial assistance, would be a good example for Macau.

“I think it’s the most efficient model to run a new railway system,” said Li Xiaojiang, director of the CAUPD Subway and Light Rail Research Centre, during the conference. But, he added, “there are no good or bad models. It all depends on the specific needs of each city”.

Even before choosing a model, GIT is confident the LRT system will boost Macau’s economy and help society earn a further MOP 15.8 to 16.4 billion just in the first 10 years of operation.

The LRT will become “Macau’s main collective transportation system” and will reduce commuting time by 63 percent, Michael Lam predicted. He also expects the use of private vehicles to drop, cutting both greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 20 percent.

“With better air quality authorities and the population will save a lot on healthcare expenses,” Ho Cheong Kei added.
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Old February 17th, 2012, 09:39 PM   #229
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SJM to submit Cotai project this week
13/02/2012 07:45:00
Macau Daily Times

Local gaming operator Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) Holdings will submit the master plan for its Cotai resort to the government as early as this week and expects the government to formally approve the land grant soon afterward.

“The Cotai plots, we’re still waiting for the Macau Government’s formal approval of the land grant. We hope that this will come very soon,” said Ambrose So, chief executive officer of SJM.

“We’re doing it now because without this master plan it is not possible for the government to calculate the premium to be charged and to start the land grant [process]. We’ll submit it as quickly as possible because we’ve got the parameters of the design now,” said So.

The executive made the remarks on the sidelines of a ‘wishing tree’ inauguration ceremony last Friday to commemorate Grand Lisboa’s fifth and SJM’s 10th anniversaries.

In December last year, Ambrose So confirmed that the government had agreed to grant a plot in Cotai to SJM but the land premium had not yet been decided. The executive didn’t identify the location of the plot.

But in December 2010 he confirmed that the operator had applied for a piece of land of some 70,000 square metres located next to Macau Dome.
After the premium payment is complete SJM will begin diversifying its business with a bigger investment in non-gaming, So said. The company founded by tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun will invest about USD 2 billion (MOP 16 billion) in its Cotai resort.

In addition to SJM, Wynn Macau and MGM China are also waiting for the Administration’s green light to move into Cotai. Although SJM holds the largest gaming market share out of the three, it has yet to set foot in Cotai.

Earlier last week, the director of the Lands Public Works and Transport Bureau, Jaime Carion, said two of the three applications for land grants in Cotai could be approved this year.

On Friday So said joining the ‘Cotai race’ later than everyone else could actually be a good thing for SJM.

“I think in Cotai it’s a different market, unlike those in the [Macau] peninsula which is gaming-oriented, gaming-centric. Of course we have to put in more non-gaming elements into our complex,” he said.

“This is something we have to think about. Being the latecomer we have the advantage of knowing what can be done and what cannot be done, what is successful and what is not successful,” said So.

Last September Wynn announced it had reached an agreement to pay a MOP 1.55 billion government premium for a plot in Cotai but authorities immediately said the concession was still “being reviewed”.

“Visitation to Cotai is indeed growing,” Union Gaming Research wrote, “due to increased supply.” But, the company added in a note to investors, “we believe at least a few more IRs [integrated resorts] are needed in order to achieve the critical mass necessary for visitors to make a conscious choice between visiting only the Macau peninsula or only Cotai”.
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Old February 19th, 2012, 01:07 PM   #230
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CCTV cameras only for two years
08/02/2012 10:44:00
Macau Daily Times

Video surveillance cameras will be installed in public areas only for two-years, president of the third standing committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) Cheang Chi Keong said yesterday.

Lawmakers met yesterday with the secretary for Security Cheong Kuoc Vá and his team. Legal advisors for both parties reached a consensus over a new draft of the law on video surveillance.

“We reached a consensus over the content of the bill in order to ensure that the crime prevention is balanced with the protection of people’s privacy,” Cheang said.

Some changes were introduced to the new bill and the government is due to submit a final version to the AL shortly.

“There is a two year limit for the operation of the cameras. Afterwards, the government will evaluate if there is a necessity to keep the surveillance system,” the head of the committee told reporters after the closed-door meeting.

In addition, the concept of “public area” was changed. It will also include areas and equipment managed by the government in order to fall in line with the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau’s General Regulation of Public Places.

Lawmakers asked the secretary whether casinos will also be included in the list of public areas, but Cheong explained that casino areas are distinctive areas.

The committee is working on the final report, which means that the scrutiny over the bill is almost complete.

Video surveillance cameras will be set up in three phases. In the first stage the government plans to install over 200 cameras at border facilities and later on in old districts with high crime rates, and for traffic control.

The Chief Executive will be the one to approve the locations of the new cameras.

Recording of private conversations is strictly banned, with some exceptions if there is a serious crime or accident involved. However, the police must request a special authorisation for sound recording.

It is also prohibited to capture images and sound inside private houses. Those who are in charge of handling the recordings are subject to the secrecy duty.
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Old February 21st, 2012, 03:04 AM   #231
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LRT Taipa works start tomorrow
20/02/2012 10:47:00
Macau Daily Times

The construction works for the first Light Rapid Transit route in downtown Taipa will start tomorrow but the Transportation Infrastructure Office (GIT) has pledged to minimise the impact on traffic.

The two-kilometre project, which will include five stations – Ocean Gardens, Macau Jockey Club, Macau Stadium and one between the old Taipa village and the Galaxy Macau resort –, will cost MOP 489 million, the office confirmed.

This was the lowest of the 16 bids received by GIT as part of the international public tender for the construction of the first route, with the highest at MOP 2.99 billion. The works should be ready around May 2015.
During the next three years traffic in Taipa will be affected by the project, the office admitted. From the end of March, traffic on Sai Van bridge’s Taipa exit will be reduced to two lanes on each way.

Later on, the road connecting the bridge to Cotai –’Rua dos Jogos da Ásia Oriental’– will also lose one lane each way. GIT has promised to introduce more road signs “considering the high speed currently found in these two lanes”.

Construction works on the road near the Jockey Club – ‘Estrada Governador Albano de Oliveira’ – will slice down the number of parking spaces available. But the office stressed that this segment will only be launched in April, after Taipa central park’s car park starts operating.

In 2009 the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau director Jaime Carion said the car park would have 1,300 parking spaces for cars and 1,300 for motorbikes, including spaces for people with disability.

Pollution reduction

“Unfortunately I should say that we are going to begin to have troubles in traffic, because with an infrastructure like this it’s unavoidable,” said GIT deputy director André Sales Ritchie, quoted by TDM News.

But the office stressed that the LRT flyover will be built with prefabricated parts and that the construction works will mostly occupy the central reservation. As a result “the construction area and schedule will be smaller than in conventional works,” GIT said.

“After the experience gained with the successfully concluded [sewer upgrade] works at Avenida Horta e Costa, authorities decided to adopt the phased construction model,” a statement adds.

Traffic aside, “there are other impacts that are unavoidable, namely construction noise and also dust particles,” Sales Ritchie admitted. Contractors will have to spray the air to reduce air pollution and measure noise, he added.

A mechanism introduced by the contractors but supervised by GIT will also be in charge of regularly keeping in touch with Taipa associations and responding to issues raised by local residents.

The open tender for the LRT route in the Macau peninsula will be launched during the first half of this year, Sales Ritchie said. The construction works will start before the end of 2012, he added.
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Old February 23rd, 2012, 05:32 PM   #232
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One Oasis launches Phase 3 amid market uncertainty
23/02/2012 09:34:00
Macau Daily Times

One Oasis announced the launch of its Phase 3 high-end residential project in Cotai in the first quarter of this year amid a traditional low-tide market condition typical of the beginning of a year.

One Oasis held a press gathering yesterday to brief the media on the new phase of the housing project, expected to be completed in the second half of 2015.

Comparing to Phases 1 and 2, the latest project put its focus on comparatively small 1- or 2-bedroom units ranging from 580 to 1,300 square feet, as well as 2,400-square-feet 4-bedroom en-suites. The number of units for public sale is not yet available. And as with the previous phases, Phase 3 also boosts luxurious clubhouses and vicinity to a number of resorts and casinos in the Cotai Strip, including the Giant Panda Garden.

Sales of uncompleted-flats, however, will start on the first quarter of this year. According to the company, the “target market price” will be set at around MOP 5,500 to MOP 6,200. The developer is optimistic of the sales prospect due to the robust local economy, strong performance of gaming and tourism industry, low interests rates and development potential of the Hengqin new zone, and expects that the major group of clients will continue to be buyers from Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China.

The sales of Phase 1 in April last year took property deals to a record high. But this time, dealers in the market are more uncertain if a similar effect is going to happen.

Ronald Cheung, Midland Macau’s sales director told Macau Daily Times yesterday that it would be difficult to expect an equally positive acceptance by the market.

“The effect of stamp tax increase could not be undervalued,” he said.
However, Cheung also pointed out that the new phase had its attractiveness, including smaller units, lower first-installment and more flexible payment. And, as the first major property project to be launched this year, One Oasis has its attractiveness, especially when the market had been low and quiet for quite a while and potential buyers are out again for new targets, especially those looking for investment chances in the Hengqin area.

He would not comment if the price of MOP 5,500 – 6,200 was reasonable. “Let’s leave it for the market’s decision.”

As to its effect on the first and second-hand property market, Cheung said due to its geographic position, the effect would probably be limited to the Cotai area, especially the second hand market of One Oasis Phase 1 and 2, rather than the market in downtown areas.

One Oasis’ developers consists of Hong Kong-listed companies as well as developers, builders and international investment institutions, including ITC Properties Group Limited, Linkeast Investments Limited, Nag Fung Group, ARCH Capital Management and Success Universe Group.
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Old February 24th, 2012, 11:34 AM   #233
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Joint 2023 bid talk ‘premature’
23/02/2012 09:34:00
Macau Daily Times

It’s still too early to discuss the possibility of the MSAR jointly hosting the 2023 Asian Games with Hong Kong and Shenzhen, the vice-president of the Sports Development Board (IDM), José Tavares, told Macau Daily Times.

On Tuesday the Hong Kong deputy secretary for Home Affairs, Jonathan McKinley, said the government would welcome a shared bid with Shenzhen and Macau, an idea first mentioned by the Olympic Council of Asia earlier this month.

“No one has contacted us over this issue,” Tavares said. And, asked if IDM would be interested in this opportunity, he said “it would have to be cautiously discussed and well thought”.

Although Macau has organised the 2005 East Asian Games and the 2007 Indoor Asian Games, Tavares stressed that the Asian Games are a much bigger event and that a joint bid would need the support from three different governments.
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Old February 25th, 2012, 04:22 AM   #234
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Three years to build Cotai resort: MGM: Macau a USD 50 billion gaming market by 2017
24/02/2012 11:24:00
Macau Daily Times

The local gaming market could reach yearly revenues of USD 50 billion (MOP 400 billion) by 2017, the chief executive officer of casino operator MGM Resorts International, Jim Murren, said.

In an interview with CNBC, the executive stressed that the Macau market is already worth USD 35 billion (MOP 280 billion). Last year the gaming industry recorded gross revenue of MOP 268 billion, according to official data.

“And I think it’s going to be over a USD 50 billion market four or five years from now,” Murren predicted.

If the sector were to reach this figure in four years that would represent an annual average growth below 10 percent, a sharp decrease from the pace seen in the last two years. In 2011, gaming revenue rose 42.2 percent but in the previous year it had grown even faster, by 57.8 percent.

The last time the industry grew by less than 10 percent was in 2009, when Macau was feeling the pinch from the global financial crisis.

And US-based MGM Resorts is keen to add to the business growth during the next few years through its local joint-venture with Macau businesswoman Pansy Ho Chiu King, MGM China Holdings.

“We have one property there [hotel-casino MGM Grand] that is doing extraordinarily well. In fact we announced record results there also,” Murren said.

But Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets gaming analyst Steven Wieczynski, quoted by Las Vegas Review-Journal, said MGM China’s market share and profitability are still disappointing.

Last month the operator came last in the gaming market share ranking with a slice of a little over 10 percent.

Cotai hopes

Nonetheless, MGM China rose to the highest in five months in Hong Kong trading yesterday after reporting that 2011 profits more than doubled. The company jumped 6.6 percent to close at HKD 13.82, the highest intraday level since September 9. The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 0.8 percent.

MGM China shares have soared 35 percent in Hong Kong this year.

“But we want to build another property there and we do expect to spend USD 2.5 billion [MOP 20 billion] because we think the markets are going to be there for us, and our brands work in China,” Murren explained.

Cotai is gaining popularity and companies that have not yet got establishments there may lose market share, Adrian Lowe, an analyst at Mirae Asset Securities in Hong Kong, said before the earnings release.
In a statement sent to the Hong Kong stock regulators, MGM China confirmed that it has “identified a site of approximately 17.8 acres in Cotai and have submitted an application to the Macau Government to obtain the right to lease this parcel of land for the purpose of constructing an integrated casino hotel and entertainment complex”.

But the operator admitted “there is currently no definitive timetable for finalizing the application process with the Macau Government”.

“We are currently working towards finalizing the concept and design of the project and will be prepared to commence the project upon approval,” MGM China wrote.

Funds available

“In Cotai, we’re well positioned and had plans for a truly unique MGM experience,” said the company’s executive director Grant Bowie in a conference call. “Our plan is to have approximately 500 tables, two and a half thousand slots, 1,600 rooms,” he revealed.

After the government’s green light, Bowie is confident it could get the resort up and running in “approximately 36 months” at an investment of “approximately USD 2 billion to USD 2.5 billion”.

Three weeks ago, Lands and Public Works Bureau (DSSOPT) director Jaime Carion said two of the three Cotai land grant applications filed by gaming operators could be approved by the end of this year.

But Gabriel Chan, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group in Hong Kong, believes MGM China might be the one left waiting. Talking to Bloomberg, Chan foresees that the land premium negotiation and land approval process for the group’s Cotai site application will be delayed to next year, pushing the resort opening to 2016 or beyond.

MGM China has announced a special dividend of HKD 0.82 cents per share. “We are pretty happy about the dividend payout,” Chan said. “The company has a high level of net cash. It is likely to maintain a high payout policy.”
Even after paying a dividend, MGM Resorts said it “has sufficient resources (…) to finance its operations and expansion of its business, including the development of an additional casino and hotel complex in Cotai”.

At the end of the last quarter, MGM China had approximately USD 720 million (MOP 5.8 billion) in cash and debt of USD 552 million (MOP 4.4 billion). But its debt was smaller than its operating profit in the last 12 months, Bowie emphasised.
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Old February 27th, 2012, 07:24 AM   #235
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Proposals for the Cotai LRT segment submitted
27/02/2012 10:37:00
Macau Daily Times

Eighteen proposals for the Cotai segment of the LRT were received by last Friday’s deadline with prices ranging between MOP 789 million and MOP 1.3 billion. Fourteen proposals have been accepted, four only conditionally. Once introduced, the LRT in Cotai is expected to facilitate transportation in this area as well as provide an interface between the border crossing at Flor de Lótus and the intercity railway of Guangzhou.

The Cotai segment includes Rua do Pai Kok in Taipa and the eastern part of Cotai, which covers the road viaduct of the light railway between the Estrada da Baía de Nossa Senhora da Esperança, Avenida Cidade Nova, the Cotai roundabout, Estrada Flor de Lótus, the Flor de Lótus roundabout and the Avenida da Nave Desportiva in Taipa, with a total length of 3.37km.

Simultaneously, four LRT stations will be constructed, specifically in the western part of Cotai, at the border crossing of Flor de Lótus, at Macau Gymnasium for East Asian Games and the eastern part of Cotai.

The project will be a joint venture between local and foreign companies. The construction will provide 400 work places for local workers.
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Old February 28th, 2012, 01:51 PM   #236
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Financing in place for Cotai resort: MGM
27/02/2012 10:37:00
Macau Daily Times

Local gaming operator MGM China Holdings has all the pieces in place for its future Cotai resort and is hopeful of seeing its project approved this year, the chief executive officer Grant Bowie said on Friday.

“The financing is in place for our Cotai project,” he told journalists in a briefing held before the company’s media spring dinner. “We have a very strong balance sheet,” the executive added.

At the end of the last quarter, MGM China had approximately USD 720 million (MOP 5.8 billion) in cash and debt of USD 552 million (MOP 4.4 billion). But its debt was smaller than its operating profit in the last 12 months, Bowie emphasised.

“Our Cotai venture will be financed with our cash flow, which is quite high, and a credit facility,” said Hubert Wang, MGM China’s chief financial officer. The company can still draw more than HKD 3.1 billion under its existing credit facility.

After the government’s green light, Bowie is confident it could get the resort up and running in “approximately 36 months” at an investment of “approximately USD 2 billion to USD 2.5 billion” (MOP 20 billion).

MGM China has announced a special dividend of HKD 0.82 cents per share. “But the dividend doesn’t come at a cost of delaying or compromising our Cotai development,” Wang stressed.
In a statement sent to the Hong Kong stock regulators, MGM China confirmed that it has “identified a site of approximately 17.8 acres in Cotai and submitted an application to the Macau Government”.

MICE, shows

“We have been asked not to talk about the process. But we have done all that was in our control. We have submitted all our plans and the process is extremely well advanced,” said Bowie.

“Our plan is to have approximately 500 tables, 2,500 slots, 1,600 rooms,” he said. But the executive stressed that gaming will only take “less than 10 percent of the total area”.

“We are looking at some sort of show and some sort of exhibition opportunities,” Bowie confirmed. However, he added that MGM would not compete with Venetian Macau to host big exhibitions and conventions, two sectors that “have not developed as strong as we expected”.

Instead the company’s Cotai resort will focus on incentives trips as “companies in the region are growing and looking into premium destinations,” as well as meetings, the executive said.

And he said MGM has learned from the demise of ZAIA, Cirque du Soleil’s first resident show in Asia. “It was an incredible show in an amazing theatre but it shows how thin the difference between success and failure is,” Bowie said.

“If you’re going to start a show you need to do it in a lot more dramatic way. If you look at the ‘House of Dancing Water’ you might not get the storyline but the production values are superb,” he said.

However, the executive added that the success of any major show will also depend on an increase in visitors’ average length of stay. “If you are going to spend less than a full day in Macau, would you give a whole night away to see one show?” he questioned.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 09:57 AM   #237
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Images, Pictures, Renders?

I would love to see more renders of Macau developments. It would be nice to see how the worlds number 1 gambling city stacks up to Las Vegas.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 11:51 AM   #238
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Same here... but I think Macau doesnt really need to showoff with tall buildings or whatsoever like other cities on the mainland does. It has its own unique culture and style.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 11:52 AM   #239
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Airport to spend US$ 20 million on updating facilities
29/02/2012
MacauNews/Business



Macau, China, 29 Feb - The renewal of four jet bridges and the restructuring of the parking apron to allow more space for small aircraft and business jets will cost about 160 million patacas (US$ 20 million) this year, Macau International Airport Company (CAM) Executive Director Liu Suning said Tuesday.

Liu pointed out in a speech, about the company’s 2012 investment plan, the airport recorded “the best year of business performance” since opening, with total revenue totalling “over three billion patacas” while CAM’s revenue reached 660 million patacas.

According to Liu, besides renewing the four jet bridges, the airport company is also planning to reorganise the layout of the aircraft parking spaces without reclaiming any land. The pointed out that land reclamation would be quite time-consuming because it required approval from the central government.

“We’ll be setting aside an aircraft apron that can park 15 to 30 business jets,” Liu said, pointing out that it would be too long for the company to wait for the government’s airport expansion plan, which includes a jet apron, to be implemented.

According to The Macau Post Daily it was previously reported that the Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) is proposing an expansion project that would double the airport’s current size and would have 38 aircraft parking bays in the first two phases in 2015 and 2020.

“We follow market demand. Aircraft movement is growing each month or each week. If we don’t prepare now, we won’t have the facility we need and it would affect growth,” Liu said, The Macau Post Daily reports today.

According to Liu, passenger traffic and aircraft movements recorded growth of 10 percent and five percent respectively in the first two months this year compared to the same period last year, pointing out that traffic from mainland China recorded a 38 percent growth while transit passenger traffic recorded 84 percent growth compared with last year.
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Old February 29th, 2012, 11:53 AM   #240
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Will try to find some renderings. Perhaps I may have better luck with the Chinese press. Generally, the casinos, especially on Cotai, are not too tall, but they tend to sprawl across. There's plenty of reclaimed land over there.
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