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[EN] Universal Studios se lance dans les casinos

Publié le par BAPST

Universal Studios says still in Singapore casino bid

Global entertainment giant Universal Studios said on June 23 it remained committed to a Malaysian-led consortium bidding for one of Singapore's two casino resorts, dismissing industry rumours that it had left the group.

"We are very much still partnering with Genting and are an integrated part of their proposal," Universal spokeswoman Cynthia Gordon told Reuters in an email.

Malaysian casino company Genting Bhd and cruise operator Star Cruises Ltd said in April that they had teamed up with the theme parks arm of Universal Studios, controlled by General Electric Co, for its proposal to develop a casino on Singapore's resort island of Sentosa.

Gordon said Universal would derive revenue from royalties on licensing if their bid was successful.

"Our energies are now focussed on Singapore. We're excited about our partnership with Genting to develop an integrated resort," she said.

The Singapore development would boost Universal's presence in Asia if the proposal is accepted.

The company, behind successful Hollywood movie franchises such as Jurassic Park and Jaws, already runs a theme park in Japan but its expansion plans for the region were hit last year when China withheld permission for a planned theme park in Shanghai.

"We are not moving forward in Shanghai. We worked for several years on a proposal for a tourist destination in Shanghai before the Chinese government pulled the plug on the projects as part of a redirection of resources in the past year as the country undergoes and unprecedented building boom," she said.

The Genting-led consortium is up against global gaming giants including Harrah's Entertainment Inc, MGM Mirage and Las Vegas Sands Corp to build what could be the world's most expensive casino developments at US$3.5-4 billion(RM13.3-15.2 billion).

Originally seen as a dark horse in the race, Genting -- which runs Malaysia's only casino on the hilltop resort of Genting -- was singled out in April by Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew as having the "most interesting" proposals among those he had seen.

Genting and Star Cruises, both controlled by Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong and his family, are also bidding for the other available site in Singapore's downtown Marina Bay.

Ahead of the official request for proposals in the third quarter, speculation is mounting that the 12 shortlisted bidding groups will further narrow.

"A lot of bidders are going to start falling off the process now. That's because it's very expensive (to run a casino) and you need a lot of resources," said Harrah's vice-president for Business Development Richard Mirman at a recent gaming conference in Singapore.

He declined to name any dropouts.

One of those shortlisted, South African hotel and casino company Peermont Global, said in May that its chances of winning the bid were "realistically" low.

In a report released in June, PriceWaterhouseCoopers said the fastest growth for the theme park industry would be in the Asia-Pacific. Spending in the region is set to rise 5.7% a year to US$8.1 billion in 2009, against annual average global growth of 4.5% over the same period. - Reuters

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