Friday, March 6, 2009

Marina Bay Sands To Be 15% Bigger

Source : The Business Times, March 5, 2009

Size increase, due to redesign, partly accounts for higher budget of US$5.4b

Marina Bay Sands, which is targeted to open around the end of the year, will be 15 per cent bigger in terms of gross floor area (GFA).

The four level casino area will, however, only occupy about 3 per cent of the total GFA.

Bigger and better: About 2% of additional GFA is attributed to the $50m to be spent on art at the resort. This is through a URA art incentive scheme which allows developers more GFA if they integrate art permanently in the design of new buildings in the Central Area

The GFA for the integrated resort was initially expected to be 570,000 sq m (6.14 million sq ft). A 15 per cent increase could take it up to 655,500 sq m (7.06 million sq ft).

MBS general manager and vice-president George Tanasijevich said that since the design of MBS was first revealed, the design of the integrated resort (IR) had undergone 'refinement and redesign' to become both 'bigger and better'.

This increase in size also partially accounts for the current budget for the IR which stands at US$5.4 billion, up from previous estimates of US$3.6 billion and US$4.5 billion.

About 2 per cent of additional GFA can be attributed to the $50 million that will be spent on art at MBS. This is through an Urban Redevelopment Authority art incentive scheme which allows property developers of new projects to gain additional GFA, over and above the maximum allowed, if they integrate art permanently in the design of new commercial or residential buildings in the Central Area.

Mr Tanasijevich was speaking at a media briefing yesterday at the construction site of MBS where it was revealed that the IR will now also be 5-storeys higher.

Structural works are almost 75 per cent completed with the structure for the casino building already 'topped up' and the topping up for the three 55-storey hotel towers expected by July.

The hotel towers, which are currently at about the 28-storey level are simultaneously being fitted out.

All this with the aim of opening in time.

While Mr Tanasijevich said they hope to open by the end of 2009, 'or close to it', it is not clear yet which parts of the IR will open first.

He said what will likely open first will be the 'primary contributors of revenue'. He added that MBS was currently in discussions with the authorities on the phasing of the 'progressive opening' of the IR.

Separately, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who was speaking in the US, said that estimates made by analysts for earnings by MBS were 'somewhat low'.

According to a Reuters report, analysts had estimated that MBS could generate Ebitda of between US$500 million and US$900 million.

But citing Singapore's favourable tax regime, Mr Adelson said: 'We will save 25 per cent on average on taxes.'

Mr Adelson's comments come after LVS reported a loss of US$136.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, down from a profit of $39.9 million a year ago.

At the time of the filing on Feb 25, LVS also said that it had raised its annual cost savings target to US$250 million.

In addition to this, Mr Adelson said yesterday that it would try and 'squeeze out another US$200 million to US$250 million'. 'If we do that, we are home free,' he added.

According to its Q4'08 filings, LVS has unrestricted cash balances as of December 31 of US$3.04 billion while restricted cash balances were US$194.8 million.

Of the restricted cash balances, it said US$124.1 million is restricted for Macau-related construction and US$61.9 million is restricted for construction of MBS.

Total debt outstanding, including the current portion, was US$10.47 billion. Principal payments required to be repaid in 2009 and 2010 total US$114.6 million and US$197.6 million, respectively.

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