Separate listing considered for casino

Melco International Development and Publishing and Broadcasting may seek a separate listing for their HKD 8 billion City of Dreams casino resort complex to raise funds for construction.

City of Dreams, to be built in Macau’s Cotai reclamation area, is the flagship project of the joint venture between Hong Kong-listed Melco and Sydney- listed PBL and will open in phases beginning in late 2008.

Melco and PBL have talked of listing the project on the Nasdaq Stock Market in the United States since merging in 2004, but Melco chairman Lawrence Ho has advanced the idea of listing City of Dreams independently in media interviews. He said the joint venture might alternatively issue junk bonds or seek a syndicated loan for funding.

Six Macau and Hong Kong banks agreed to loan HKD 1.28 billion to Melco PBL Entertainment in February to fund construction of the HKD 1.5 billion Crown Macau casino hotel.

The Crown Macau will open early next year on Taipa Island. Melco said Monday the casino will have only about 500 slot machines instead of 1,000 as previously stated.

The change comes as average daily gross revenue per machine at the JV‘s Mocha Slot halls levels off. After rising to almost HKD 2,000 a month, the daily take ended the year at HKD 1,750.

Mocha doubled its network to six halls in the past year and is preparing to open two to three more parlors this year. Melco said Monday the new parlors will expand Mocha’s total machine count to about 1,500 from 1,000.

Tang forecast that Mocha, of which Melco PBL owns 80 percent, will generate HKD 243 million in profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization this year on revenue of HKD 462 million.

Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang put Melco PBL‘s expected capital spending this year at HKD 3.2 billion, including HKD 1 billion for Crown Macau, HKD 2.1 billion for City of Dreams and HKD 90 million for Mocha.