In Singapore, giant casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corporation is reportedly hoping to sell off a large stake in its shopping mall inside the Marina Bay Sands development before potentially using the proceeds to invest in future venues in Japan or South Korea.
According to a report from The Straits Times newspaper, the Las Vegas-based giant wants to offload a 49% share in its 800,000 sq ft The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands for up to $3.5 billion but first needs the approval of the city-state’s government.
“We expect to receive a very significant price for the 49% we are willing to sell,” Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Las Vegas Sands Corporation, reportedly told analysts during a conference call on Wednesday. “We are looking at potentially $3 billion to $3.5 billion. We’re in preparation with our bankers to prepare that property to sell. The interest we have is that it is the highest trophy mall there is in the world. We anticipate almost an unprecedented price to sell 49% of it.”
Adelson also reportedly declared that the desired price would make The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands “the most expensive mall ever sold in the world” although any transaction would not take place until April or May.
Under the terms of its original licensing deal, which began in March of 2007, Las Vegas Sands Corporation was reportedly given a ten-year exclusivity period so that it could begin to recoup the billions of dollars it had spent to construct the Marina Bay Sands. A similar agreement was moreover inked by Genting Singapore for its nearby Resorts World Sentosa integrated casino resort complex and both firms would need official approval before offloading any portion of their Singapore developments once this privileged phase expired.
“There are more noises coming out of [South] Korea now that Japan is legalizing casino gaming,” Adelson reportedly told analysts. “We will want to see what the development opportunities are. We can always get money to develop properties.”
Chew Tiong Heng, Infrastructure Planning And Management Executive Director for the Singapore Tourism Board, told The Straits Times that Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which also operates The Parisian Macao, The Plaza Macao, Sands Macao, The Venetian Macao and Sands Cotai Central in Macau via its Sands China Limited subsidiary, has indicated that it may sell off a portion of Marina Bay Sands but had yet to make a formal request.
“My guess is the government doesn’t want [Las Vegas Sands Corporation] to cut and run or become asset-light and just focus on gambling,” Alan Cheong from global real estate services provider Savills Singapore told The Straits Times. “It wants Las Vegas Sands [Corporation] to still have commitment to its investment in Singapore. On the other hand, Las Vegas Sands [Corporation] may also want to retain majority control because it wants to maintain the mall’s position in the retail market.”
Although more than 60% of Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s current revenues come from Macau, its Marina Bay Sands development is still a prized asset with the development recently posting an 8% increase year-on-year in fourth-quarter net profits to $366 million. This was helped by a 2.8% rise in overall revenues $723 million while gaming turnover swelled by 5.6% to reach $563 million.
In terms of The Shoppes At Marina Bay Sands, turnover for the final three months of 2016 climbed by 4.8% year-on-year to hit $44 million while Cheong additionally told the newspaper that potential buyers could include “sovereign wealth funds or a consortium of large private equity firms” as there is currently “a lack of available good-quality retail mall stock” in Singapore.