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Old March 15th, 2013, 04:56 AM   #341
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100m high rise plan officially received, gov’t in talks
14/03/2013 07:54:00
Macau Daily Times

Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lao Si Io confirmed yesterday that the authority had officially received plans for the Seac Pai Van residential tower and had sent out consultations to various departments.

In response to the statement from local businessman Sio Tak Hong last week that developers had delivered plans for the residential tower project in Coloane to the government, Lao stated that the authority would review it according to the law. As for society’s worries about environmental conservation and heritage protection, he said the government would talk with related departments. “We will ask the developer to hand in more information,” said Lao.

Talking with journalists after attending the AL standing committee’s discussion over the land bill, the Secretary said the government has already taken urban planning into account in some related projects before the urban planning law is set to come out.

Jaime Roberto Carion, Director of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) added that the application is now undergoing administrative procedures: “We are collecting opinions from different departments. We had sent out consultations to the Fire Service Bureau, the Transport Bureau and the Environmental Protection Bureau. Given the controversy raised by the former Portuguese military building nearby, we also consulted the Cultural Affairs Bureau.” Carion said the final decision is pending, subject to replies from various departments.

He said the government would ensure the construction would not exceed the stipulated scope. However, when asked how to guarantee that hills would not be destroyed by the project, he replied that, “Destruction is one thing, while protection is another thing.”

When asked if the government had felt pressure when facing businessmen and developers who made public announcements earlier in Beijing, Secretary Lao refused to comment.

In reference to an earlier MDT report, during the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing last week, local businessman Mr. Sio Tak Hong confirmed that he would continue with the high-rise residential tower in Seac Pai Van, Coloane. Sio declared that the developer had handed in the project plan to the government and would stick to the project in spite of great controversy, on the grounds that the land is private property and thus is protected by laws.

The 100-meter high residential building will consist of twenty to thirty stories with over 2,000 units. There is currently no timetable, and they await the authority’s reply, according to Sio.
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Old March 18th, 2013, 03:18 PM   #342
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Disagreement continues between AL and Gov’t on urban planning
13/03/2013 08:15:00
Macau Daily Times

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澳門 Macau by asterisktom, on Flickr

The Legislative Assembly (AL)’s 2nd Standing Committee yesterday continued it’s deliberations on the draft Urban Planning Law but the two sides still disagree over who should have the final decision on the master and specific urban development plans. Lawmakers prefer to have control over such an important decision, or at least stipulate the basic principles of urban planning in the new law instead of leaving all decisions to future government executive orders. They also mentioned the possibility of “overturning” the draft and taking the bill back to the AL plenary session for debate.

Chan Chak Mo, president of the 2nd Standing Committee told the media after the meeting that the problem related to master/detailed urban planning, which caused much dispute during the plenary session in February, which resurfaced again in a different form.

“In our meeting today, individual lawmaker(s) raised the point that according to the draft, the existing urban planning principles will continue to remain as the guidelines if the government can’t immediately come up with a master/detailed plans after the new law is enacted,” Chan said. “The problem is that the current principles are not well known to the public at all. So we’re thinking the government should disclose details of the current principles and guidelines, otherwise we would require the government to come up with master/detailed plans in 3 or 6 months after the new law is passed. Otherwise we face the risk of using the old rules for an unspecified length of time.”

During the plenary session that gave preliminary approval to the bill the committee president said “some lawmakers had already raised concerns about whether the government should control all the power in master/detailed planning, or whether the AL should have final say over the very important issue, especially when the government has to compensate property owners in order to take control of their properties. Unfortunately the bill was already passed in the plenary meeting despite (two) individual lawmakers casting abstention votes.”

Asked about the possible follow-up over the disagreement, Chan said they would ask the government to stipulate in the new law the principles for drawing up the master/detailed plans. “We’ll raise the request in our next meeting with government representatives next week. If the authority refuses, well, as you know the bill would have to undergo a final voting by all lawmakers in a new plenary session. (The bill would become a law) unless it’s vetoed and we start over again with the established legislation procedures.”

He would not comment on whether such a possibility is high or not, but he stressed that the new law must be enacted within the current AL session.

Talking about other issues, Chan said the Committee believed that there’re interrelationships between the Urban Planning Law, the Land Law and the Cultural Heritage Conservation Law, so it might be advisable for different AL committees deliberating the laws to come together and discuss the necessary coordination on consistent legal terminology.

The Committee also wanted the government to specify what it means by “major public interests”, based on which the government decides whether to acquire ownership of some private properties.
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Old March 23rd, 2013, 05:23 PM   #343
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Tower project planned for Seac Pai Van may be changed
22/03/2013 08:07:00
Macau Daily Times

More consultations need to be conducted with relevant government departments about the high-rise building planed for Seac Pai Van, the government indicated.

The developer of this project may be required to change the plans in accordance with the departments’ suggestions, disclosed Jaime Carion, Director of the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT).

However, he reiterated that the Coloane project was not regulated by the rule set forth by the Portuguese administration to preserve natural scenery, since the site does not exceed 80 meters.

Earlier, the Chief Executive Chui Sai On referred to regulations that any project 80 meters above sea level in Coloane had to be approved by the Cultural Affairs Bureau.

Carion said they would consult the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) on the project’s impact on green areas nearby. The Cultural Affairs Bureau will also be consulted about the military pillbox. “As to whether the building will affect the natural environment, we are not experts and we need to consult with other departments. If they say the building plan has to be adjusted, we will definitely order the developer to change the plan,” he told TDM.
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Old April 27th, 2013, 08:43 PM   #344
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Macau’s oldest Chinese theatre gets MOP20 million facelift
26/04/2013 08:42:00
Macau Daily Times



The Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) and Cheng Peng Cultural Centre Company announced Wednesday in a joint press conference at the 138-year old Cheng Peng Theatre that the historic building will be given a MOP20 million facelift to restore it to its former glory.
 The Cheng Peng is Macau’s oldest Chinese theatre. It opened 15 years after the city’s Portuguese D. Pedro V Theatre opened in 1860. William Kuan Vai Lam, the company’s vice manager, told reporters his company has the support of the bureau to turn the theatre, located in Travessa do Auto Novo near the history-laden Rua da Felicidade, into a place to show the history of Cantonese opera, in addition to becoming a venue for other cultural activities.

“During the Second World War, Macau became a refuge for people fleeing the Japanese invasion [of large parts of mainland China]. Among the refugees were many Cantonese opera performers who left their mark on the theatre,” Kuan told The Macau Post Daily. “We hope we can use this place to promote Cantonese opera and turn it into cultural centre for locals.”

Kuan, whose company is in charge of the renovation project, told reporters that the project would take a few months to complete. He said the main objective was to restore the theatre to the way it looked in its heyday, adding that the budget will be over 20 million patacas. He also said that his company had secured a 30-year lease on the property.

The company plans to set up an exhibition hall showcasing the history of Cantonese opera and resume opera performances in the 950-square-metre theatre in addition to showing films and staging plays and musicals.

Kuan said his company was trying to collect memorabilia such as costumes worn by performers and pictures taken during the theatre’s halcyon days, adding it was lobbying to have the theatre as a venue for next year’s Macau Arts Festival.

Cheong Cheok Kio, who heads the Cultural Heritage Department of the Cultural Affairs Bureau, said that the theatre has a distinct cultural value that should be preserved. He also said that the bureau would provide technical support for the theatre’s renovation.

“We’ll look into revamping the theatre… so it’ll have a modern look while maintaining its original style,” said Cheong. “We shall also research its cultural history, such as finding out who performed in the theatre and significant events that took place here,” said Cheong.

Built in 1875, the theatre was the first purpose-built theatre for Cantonese opera in southern China. It was a performance hall for Cantonese opera for much of its existence while it also served as a cinema for much of the 20th century, before it was closed down on August 21, 1992 when the air-conditioning system broke down.
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Old May 7th, 2013, 08:50 PM   #345
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Chan Meng Kam urges gov’t to use idle land to build more homes for residents
07/05/2013 07:11:00
Macau Daily Times

Lawmaker Chan Meng Kam submitted a written petition yesterday to urge the government to make use of land that has been illegally occupied or abandoned. He suggested that this land should be used to build residential housing for Macau people. Since 2009, the MSAR government had been claiming back land that has been unlawfully occupied by a number of groups. The plan is to allocate more space for the Authority’s public housing projects. The petition stated that the government has seized over fifty properties that were illegally occupied since the land-recovery campaign commenced.
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Old June 12th, 2013, 06:06 PM   #346
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UM to move into new campus in phases
10/06/2013 07:37:00
Macau Daily Times

The Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Cheong U, said last Friday that he was confident that the University of Macau’s new campus in Hengqin would be ready in September. Cheong also stated his view that moving into the campus phase by phase was the most appropriate approach. Explaining that instead of making the shift to Hengqin all at once, it is more viable for students, teachers and facilities of certain courses to be relocated to the new zone opposite to the Cotai first, with other courses to be relocated at a later date. Speaking to the media on the sidelines of a public event, he said that the new campus is currently undergoing inspections and that there was not as yet any final decision about the future of the current UM campus in Taipa.
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Old June 25th, 2013, 08:36 PM   #347
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Cotai Strip

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Room view at the City of Dreams by kevincrumbs, on Flickr
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Old July 3rd, 2013, 05:05 AM   #348
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
This is the new Galaxy Casino that opened on the Cotai Strip earlier this year :

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Galaxy Macau Panorama by Anthony Benger, on Flickr
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DSC07352.jpg by Ullrich Moser, on Flickr
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Old August 1st, 2013, 04:47 AM   #349
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Early spring for Wynn's floral-themed Macau casino

HONG KONG, July 30 (Reuters) - Gambling magnate Steve Wynn said he would open his first casino resort on Macau's prime Cotai strip earlier than expected in first-quarter 2016, sending shares in the Macau unit of his U.S. firm at least 3 percent higher despite lower quarterly earnings.

Wynn Macau, a unit of Wynn Resorts Ltd, has been losing market share to rivals Las Vegas Sands and Galaxy Entertainment because of its absence from the Vegas-style Cotai area.

Slower revenue growth in Macau due to hotel renovations led to lower-than-expected second-quarter earnings for Wynn Resorts Ltd, but founder Wynn said the company was committed expanding in the world's biggest casino market.

Analysts had expected the Cotai property to open by 2017.

"I feel sanguine and comfortable about being here and plan on being here a lot longer," Wynn told an earnings briefing.

The new resort, called the Wynn Palace, will be similar to Wynn's palatial Las Vegas property, the Bellagio, and will be fronted by a massive lake with a light-and-fire show, Wynn said. Guests will be ferried across the lake in an air-conditioned gondola.

Wynn set the property's budget at $4 billion, allaying investors fears of spiralling costs, and said the resort hoped to attract punters with moving floral sculptures, up to 12 metres wide, of carousel horses, peacocks and tigers.

"The theme of this hotel is flowers, floral things. The use of flowers, of water and natural light... has been taken to a new level for our company," Wynn said.

Macau, located on the heel of China's southern coast, is the only place in the country where casino gambling is legal, resulting in $38 billion in gaming revenues last year, more than six times that of the Las Vegas strip.

The Cotai strip of reclaimed land is currently the most popular gambling destination in Macau, with punters drawn to its lavish casinos that include Galaxy's gilded palace and the Cotai Central and the Venetian, owned by Sands.

Both Galaxy and Sands are rapidly expanding in the strip, and analysts said Wynn will continue to underperform its competitors until it also sets up resorts in the area.

Wynn Resorts Ltd said its second-quarter net revenues from Macau rose 2.6 percent year-on-year, slower than the 16.2 percent increase from its Las Vegas operations.

Adjusted property EBITDA in the second quarter of 2013 slipped 4 percent to $290.1 million versus analyst expectations of $300 million.

Wynn Macau is renovating 600 guestrooms in its existing Wynn Macau resort which led to a 5 percent reduction in the number of available rooms. The renovation is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.
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Old August 12th, 2013, 03:03 PM   #350
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Hengqin seeks to woo investments from Hong Kong
South China Morning Post
12 August 2013

Hengqin, formerly an oyster farming island next to Macau, is seeking investments and tourists from Hong Kong to develop the tourism and medical industries, according to a top official.

Niu Jing, director of the administrative committee of the Hengqin New Area in Zhuhai, said the island intended to develop the non-casino tourism, financial, medical and technology industries.

"Tourism will be our core development, but we would also like to develop financial services such as wealth management and private banking services," Niu told the South China Morning Post in an exclusive interview. "The central government has confirmed Hengqin can develop yuan exchange services. The Big Four stated-owned banks have set up branches on the island, and we hope Hong Kong-based financial firms will set up offices in Hengqin.

"While Macau is our closest neighbour, Hong Kong is our partner. Hong Kong is an international financial centre and we would like to let Hengqin companies raise funds in Hong Kong by listing on the stock exchange, issuing dim sum bonds or borrowing money from banks."

Hengqin, an island within a few minutes by ferry from Macau and about two hours from Hong Kong, is one of the three special economic zones in Guangdong. Hengqin, Qianhai and Nansha are identified in the country's 12th five-year plan to 2015 as testing grounds for new free-trade-zone concepts.

Niu said Hengqin could offer incentives to attract Hong Kong and foreign investors. For example, companies' profit tax can be reduced to 15 per cent from the normal 25 per cent. People from Hong Kong and Macau working in Hengqin can also pay the same tax rates as in Hong Kong and Macau, which are lower than on the mainland.

The 106-square-kilometre Hengqin was initially relatively primitive with only a few thousand residents, who made a living by raising oysters. In 2009, it gained the special economic zone status and the government has since spent 45 billion yuan (HK$57 billion) on infrastructure projects. It has also completed the 6 billion yuan University of Macau campus, which could house 10,000 students. It has 56 ongoing projects in the tourism, Chinese medicine, health-care, culture and technology industries involving a total investment of 226.3 billion yuan.

"Hengqin now has about 7,000 residents, and we target 280,000 by 2020," Niu said. "Our planned facilities, due to be completed in the next few years, will be able to handle 20 million to 30 million visitors every year. In the longer run, we will be able to handle 60 million visitors a year."

He admitted there was competition from other special economic zones such as Qianhai.

"There is competition but we are not worried. Good competition can drive all of us to do a better job," Niu said. "Hengqin has advantages as we are seven times the size of Qianhai, and we have more land to develop. While Qianhai focuses on financial services, Hengqin has a wider scope, ranging from tourism, financial services, culture, health care to Chinese medicine."

Niu said the trip between Hong Kong and Hengqin was too far now. But that will be shortened to about 30 minutes by car after the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is open in 2016.

"After the bridge is in use, people can live in Hengqin and work in Hong Kong. Hengqin could be the home for people from both Macau and Hong Kong," he said.
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Old August 21st, 2013, 10:18 AM   #351
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Versace to build Macau casino resort hotel with SJM

MILAN, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Italian fashion house Versace has signed a deal to build a luxury hotel at a casino resort in Macau, Asia's gambling capital, it said on Tuesday.

In a joint statement with local casinos operator SJM Holdings Ltd, Versace said the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel will be part of a resort SJM is building in the former Portuguese colony's Las Vegas-style Cotai strip.

The statement did not give any financial details.

SJM, controlled by the family of gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, was given initial approval in May to build its first resort in Cotai, where it has been facing competition from rivals like Las Vegas Sands Corp and Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd .

The property, which is not expected to open before 2015, will have 700 gaming tables and 2000 hotel rooms.

The Macau hotel is Versace's first hotel in Asia and the third in the world after one in Australia and another that will open next year in Dubai.

Macau, located an hour away form Hong Kong by ferry, is China's only legal casino hub. Gambling revenues totalled $3.7 billion in the month of July alone, up 20 percent on a year earlier, thanks to rising numbers of mainland Chinese visitors.
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Old October 7th, 2013, 10:29 AM   #352
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Versace CEO says planned Macau hotel design will be fine-tuned for Chinese appeal
5 September 2013

MACAU (AP) - Italian fashion house Versace and Macau casino company SJM say the Versace-themed hotel they're planning for the Asian gambling city will be tweaked to appeal to the local Chinese market and open in 2017.

Gianni Versace SpA CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris said Thursday that the five-star Palazzo Versace would retain the "neoclassical style" found at its other two hotels, in Australia and Dubai. But he added, "clearly there will be some fine tuning with the local culture."

He declined to give more details, saying designer Donatella Versace would be responsible for the design. The luxury brand, known for its Medusa-head logo and over-the-top style of its clothes, is already popular with China's growing pool of affluent consumers.

Versace and SJM Holdings Ltd. signed a deal last month to build the hotel at SJM's Cotai resort in Macau, a former Portuguese colony turned semiautonomous Chinese region that's the world's most lucrative gambling market.

SJM Chairman Ambrose So said the resort would open in 2017 and is expected to cost about 2.5 billion Hong Kong dollars ($322 million). Versace's hotel will be one of several at the resort. It will have 270 of the resort's 2,000 hotel rooms and some of its 700 gambling tables, So said, without being more specific. The Versace hotel will also feature a restaurant, swimming pools and shops.

So and Ferraris declined to give any details on the hotel's cost.

The project gives Versace a new way to raise its profile with mainland Chinese, who account for two-thirds of the more than 28 million visitors to Macau each year. It also gives SJM a big-name luxury brand popular to help keep up with rivals who have a head start on expanding in the Cotai Strip, Asia's version of the Las Vegas Strip.

"We have been looking at greater China for a while as this is one of the priority markets for the entire Versace business," said Ferraris. Versace has outlets in two Macau casinos, which Ferraris said are among the "best performing stores" globally. It also has numerous stores in mainland China.

Macau raked in $38 billion in gambling revenue last year, about six times the amount on the Las Vegas Strip, powered by high-rolling Chinese gamblers.

SJM, founded by billionaire tycoon Stanley Ho, is the long time market leader in Macau's casino industry but its lead is slipping as competitors such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. expand rapidly in the Cotai Strip. Macau's six casino companies, which also include Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International, are all planning major projects expected to open starting mid-2015 in Cotai, a patch of reclaimed swampland earmarked for all future expansion. SJM was one of the last casino operators to get approval for its Cotai project.

SJM Managing Director Angela Leong, one of Ho's four wives and a fan of the Versace brand, said the idea for a hotel in Macau first came to her in 2003. That's when Ho and their family stayed at the Palazzo Versace in Australia's Gold Coast to escape from the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome that killed hundreds, most of them in nearby Hong Kong.

"We saw the Versace hotel was a beautiful, elegant, world-class hotel," she told reporters at a signing ceremony with Donatella Versace. "I thought it was 100 percent worth it to have such a hotel in Macau."
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Old October 12th, 2013, 06:53 PM   #353
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Hengqin

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横琴新区 by elvisinchina, on Flickr
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Old October 14th, 2013, 10:50 PM   #354
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what is that?
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Old October 15th, 2013, 04:54 AM   #355
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looks like a castle....
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Old October 15th, 2013, 05:41 PM   #356
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Quote:
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what is that?
Hengqin was an oyster farming island and is now being transformed into a tourism, cultural, research, and health care destination. It is connected with a border crossing with Macau. The University of Macau is also building a new campus on the island, thanks to special co-operation with Guangdong province.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 02:14 PM   #357
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Welcome to Cotai -- and Construction!
28 October 2013
Forbes Asia

Macau's six casino powers are rolling out an array of new resorts on the stretch of reclaimed land connecting the Coloane and Taipa islands. The Cotai Strip follows on the earlier betting parlors of old Macau. As the only place in China where gambling is legal, the once-sleepy Portuguese colony is on track to soar well beyond last year's take of $38 billion, already more than six times that of the Las Vegas Strip. Major public-infrastructure projects, in tandem with the development of Hengqin Island (China's neighboring special economic zone) over the next few years, are expected further to increase the flow of flush Chinese punters to the casino hub. --Robert Olsen

GALAXY ENTERTAINMENT GROUP, controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Lui Che Woo, will complete phase 2 of its expansion by mid-2015. Galaxy has the largest land plot in Cotai and the second-biggest share of the overall gaming market in Macau. Earlier this year Galaxy acquired the adjacent Grand Waldo (green and blue roofs) casino for HK$3.25 billion. The 84-year-old patriarch's son, Francis Lui, runs Galaxy as the company's deputy chairman.

THE VENETIAN MACAO, THE PLAZA MACAO AND SANDS COTAI CENTRAL, all owned by Sheldon Adelson's Sands China. Back in 2007 Adelson took his own huge gamble by loading up with $10 billion of debt to fund multiple casinos in Macau and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, along with an expansion in Las Vegas. He hit the jackpot, propelling his net worth from a low of $3 billion to its current $28.5 billion. Here he's spending $2.7 billion more on an adjacent 3,000-room hotel and casino called The Parisian Macau, which is due to open in late 2015.

CITY OF DREAMS, the flagship casino of Melco Crown Entertainment, a joint venture between Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho (the son of casino pioneer Stanley Ho). Melco has teamed up with Henry Sy's Belle Corp. to develop a casino resort in Manila that should open next year. Ho has also recently revealed plans to invest in two more casino projects in Vladivostok, Russia.

MELCO is investing $2 billion to keep up with its larger rivals by building its new Studio City casino resort, which is scheduled to open by mid-2015 convenient to expected inflows from bridge-connected Hengqin.

MGM CHINA HOLDINGS, a partnership between MGM Resorts and Hong Kong's richest woman, Pansy Ho (daughter of Stanley Ho), has no presence in Cotai but plans to invest HK$20 billion ($2.5 billion) to build a casino resort with 500 gaming tables, 2,500 slot machines and 1,600 hotel rooms.

STEVE WYNN'S WYNN MACAU has budgeted $4 billion for the Wynn Palace, a 2,000-room casino resort slated to open in early 2016. Wynn has recently been involved in legal disputes with shareholders and former director Kazuo Okada, a Japanese gambling baron, over a $135 million pledge to a Macau university. Wynn, like MGM, is open in old Macau.

SJM HOLDINGS, controlled by Stanley Ho's family, was the last of the six operators cleared to build here on the Cotai Strip. SJM is in talks for neighboring plot from Ho's fourth wife, Angela Leong. Asia's largest casino operator thanks to Ho's four-decade monopoly that ended in 2002, SJM plans a resort with some 700 betting tables and 1,000 slot machines as well as 2,000 hotel rooms.
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Old November 27th, 2013, 08:47 AM   #358
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Bouygues secures contract for Macau hotel in China


Bouygues Construction subsidiary Dragages Macau has secured a contract, worth about €360m, to construct a hotel in Macau, China, which will be part of the City of Dreams entertainment complex. (source)
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Old December 6th, 2013, 07:07 PM   #359
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Macau's U-turn over light rail fails to stem criticism
2 December 2013
South China Morning Post

Macau chief executive Fernando Chui Sai-on has bowed to public pressure and the Macau Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) over a light rail project.

During his policy address on November 12, Chui announced the Light Rapid Transit (LRT) railway will adopt a waterfront route recommended by CCAC and a Macau residents' organisation, Community Development Macau, instead of passing through London Street and Porto Street as previously planned.

Community Development Macau and CCAC had opposed the route through London Street and Porto Street.

The LRT project, intended to serve most of Macau's urban areas and connect with the rail network of the Pearl River Delta, is suffering delays and cost overruns. A Macau government agency, the Transportation Infrastructure Office, known as GIT, is in charge of the design and construction of the light rail. In September last year, CCAC and the Macau Audit Commission issued reports criticising the project.

"GIT got so much flak from the CCAC and audit reports as well as from the public, they are afraid of their own shadows now. They are afraid to make a mistake, so they won't do anything. This has delayed the project by at least two and a half years," said a source linked to the LRT project.

"GIT pays great attention to and cooperates with the reports of the Audit Commission and CCAC," GIT told the South China Morning Post. GIT said it was studying the suggestions of the audit and CCAC reports, and is reporting the situation to the higher authorities.

According to the Macau Infrastructure Development Office's estimate, the project is more than 18 months behind schedule. Phase 1 of the light rail was originally scheduled to start operation in 2014.

"It is impossible to start operation in 2014. Construction of the Macau peninsula section didn't start yet and will not within the next six months," said a Macau engineer.

Construction has begun on the Taipa section of the light rail, but work has been delayed by more than six months due to various factors such as weather and ground conditions, GIT told the South China Morning Post. The Macau peninsula section of the light rail is lagging behind the Taipa section, and GIT has commissioned consultants to study how to improve the situation, GIT said.

"The reasons given for diverting the rail route were unconvincing and unscientific. The work has been too slipshod, which may lead to many technical problems during construction in future," said the CCAC report.

Another reason for public dissatisfaction was the lack of co-ordination between government departments such as GIT and the Macau ministry of land, public works and transport, the report added.

"In such a large and important project, GIT was inadequate in technical and management aspects. This caused many problems and contradictions. Unconvincing regulations and procedures were adopted during the consultancy stage," said CCAC.

The source said: "The main problem with the project is incompetence and a lack of technical knowledge."

First proposed in 2003, the budget for the LRT project was 7.5 billion patacas in 2010, up 79 per cent from previous estimates, the South China Morning Post earlier reported.

Subsequently, GIT reassessed the construction budget and found it to be 11.07 billion patacas, said the Macau Audit Commission report.

As of the end of 2011, the funds disbursed for one sub-project within the LRT project was 489 million patacas, 32 per cent higher than budgeted, while the funds granted to another sub-project was 386 million patacas, 45 per cent above budget, said the audit report.

"There was a rather big discrepancy between the budget and the funds disbursed by GIT. Although GIT professed it had asked its employees to control costs, it did not clearly stipulate in writing the methods and scope of cost control, which risked disunity in implementation," the audit report added.

In reply to the audit report, GIT said it would control costs through its "Commercial Management Plan" and was studying how to control costs.
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Old February 15th, 2014, 06:27 AM   #360
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Stanley Ho's SJM makes fresh start with new Macau casino




Renders from Macau Daily Times

MACAU, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Macau gambling kingpin Stanley Ho helped put the former Portuguese colony on the map 40 years ago with the fluorescent, onion-shaped Casino Lisboa. Now, the pioneer of old Macau is creating a new landmark - a $3.9 billion resort that will be one of the final projects to open on China's booming Las Vegas-style Cotai strip.

The 92-year-old Ho, through privately held company Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), presided over much of Macau's development as a casino city, shielded by a four-decade monopoly on gambling until 2001 when the door was opened for U.S. casino moguls Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn.

Built for gambling purists, Ho's seedy, windowless halls have been superseded by the entry of flashier resorts over the past decade. The five other licensed operators have opened non-gaming attractions including grand convention spaces, gondola-filled lagoons and luxury retail plazas. Even so, Ho's 17 Macau casinos still rake in the most revenue each year.

Now home to 35 casinos, Macau is one of the world's fastest growing economies with more than 80 percent of government revenues derived from the gaming industry.

But new regulations forcing casinos to diversify into non-gaming tourism are shaking things up. Over the past two years, Beijing has made clear that the semi-autonomous southern territory needs to balance gambling with more leisure and family-focused attractions.

For SJM Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed entity and main asset of STDM, the changes mean its new Cotai resort - introduced as Lisboa Palace at a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday - cannot rely on the old pure-gaming model.

"SJM's only problem is it has only ever been a gaming company. It is a company so ingrained in gaming that it could be a limiting factor," said Macau-based David Green who heads Newpage Consultancy, an advisor on the gambling industry.

Casino operators' efforts to diversify are likely to be a key consideration in renewing gaming licenses which start to expire in 2020, industry experts said. Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam has said discussions on the renewal process will start next year.

Under the new rules, Macau is only granting gaming tables to casinos based on their non-gaming facilities - the more activities they offer to general tourists the more tables they will be allotted.

SJM responded by allocating 90 percent of its new 70,000 square metre (753,500 square feet) resort to non-gaming facilities including a wedding pavilion and multi-purpose theatre.

Design renderings of the resort depict an ivory-coloured facade modelled on the palace of Versailles, Chinese motifs such as imperial gardens of the Summer Palace, and cultural relics from the 16th and 17th centuries.

The 2000-room Lisboa Palace also includes a 270-room, six-star hotel by Italian fashion house Versace.

"We are mindful this is a new area we have come into, in which we compete with the other operators in Cotai," Ambrose So, the 39-year veteran and chief executive of SJM, told Reuters in an interview in the company's minimalist offices above the garishly adorned Casino Lisboa.

"Ten years back the main thing for them (customers) was really gaming-centric. They just wanted to go to the casino and were glued to the tables. We have seen there is a gradual change."

The Lisboa Palace represents a significant upgrade to SJM's most lavish property, the Grand Lisboa, a 54-story tower shaped like a lotus flower which remains a Macau landmark 7 years after its opening.

QUALITY, NEW EXPERIENCES

The targeted demographic is also vastly different from the chain-smoking punters who frequent SJM's dimly lit casinos.

"The customer type is looking for more quality, entertainment and new experiences," So said, adding that the company was close to finalising a deal with another fashion house to develop a 270-room hotel.

Until SJM finishes construction in 2017, the company is likely to continue ceding market share to competitors, analysts said. Once the sole player, SJM's share has slipped to less than a quarter of the market.

By the time Lisboa Palace opens, Macau is expected to have a light rail service and a bridge connecting the tiny territory, one sixth the size of Washington D.C., to Hong Kong and Zhuhai.

While Ho no longer owns a tangible shareholding in STDM or SJM, the company still has a huge presence in Macau, with stakes in everything from luxury hotels to transport services, real estate and horse racing.

As Macau continues to transform rapidly, SJM looks set to remain rooted in the vision of its founder. Angela Leong, known as Ho's fourth wife and former ballroom dance teacher, is also deeply involved in the business.

"We should always remain authentic and local, preserving our own characteristics. We really integrate into society. We are a local company interwoven with society," So said.
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