Vietnam casino developer eyes USD 1 billion Hong Kong IPO

A Canadian firm developing an ocean-front casino complex in Vietnam hopes to raise USD 1 billion in a Hong Kong IPO in the next two years, a local newspaper reported, despite signs of weakening Asian gambling revenue.

Asian Coast Development and investor Harbinger Capital began work on their USD 4.2 billion Ho Tram Strip project in May, hoping to open in two years and target mainly Chinese gamblers.

The South China Morning Post cited Chairman Mike Aymong as saying he would prefer a Hong Kong share offering because of strong investor appetite there for gambling firms. Aymong was also quoted as saying the firm had prepared USD 800 million to USD 900 million debt offering, but planned to ride out the global financial storm before taking it to market.

„You’d have to be a fool not to be concerned about the marketplace, so we just have to pick our timing and pick our price,“ the newspaper cited Aymong as saying. „We’ve got enough money where we can start the pre-construction and start building, and when the market opens back up, we’ll go out and do the debt offering.“ Analysts point out that explosive growth in Asian gambling – fuelled by increasingly wealthy Chinese gamers — may be decelerating.

Citigroup estimated this week that year-on-year gambling revenue in Macau, the region’s gambling capital, fell 3 % in September, the first fall since January 2006. The bank cited restrictions on visas granted to residents of the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, a major source of gamers for the former Portugese enclave, the only city in China that permits gambling.