Teem raising funds to buy into Macau gaming junket

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2007, 12:00am

Teem Foundation, a former timber trader and now Macau high-stakes gambling junket investor, is selling new shares worth HK$427.4 million to acquire an undetermined stake in a VIP gaming junket that will take high rollers to the new Venetian casino resort on Macau's Cotai Strip.

Teem will sell 161.28 million new shares in a placement at HK$2.65 each, an 11.1 per cent discount to their closing price on Thursday.

The shares represent 16.75 per cent of the firm's existing share capital and 14.35 per cent of its enlarged capitalisation. Bear Stearns is the placing agent.

Yesterday's announcement of the placement came a day after Teem said that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to take an indirect stake in profits from the private VIP rooms held by a gambling junket attached to 'a hotel on the Cotai Strip'.

The announcement did not identify the junket or name the hotel. Teem chairman Richard Lum said in April he was targeting a deal to secure interest in a junket at Las Vegas Sands Corp's US$2.4 billion Venetian, which will open next month with 850 gaming tables as the first big resort on the Cotai Strip and will be the world's largest casino by number of tables.

Teem did not say how many gaming tables the new Venetian junket would control. The price and size of its interest in the junket are subject to further negotiation, according to the stock exchange announcement.

Teem has expanded aggressively into Macau's high-stakes gaming segment, paying HK$1.3 billion in two separate deals starting in September last year for control of two junkets that take high-rollers to the Sands and Wynn casinos.

Junkets are middlemen who collect a commission on gross sales of VIP gaming chips from casino operators in exchange for bringing in high-rolling customers, lending them cash and collecting gambling debts.

Based on official gaming revenue statistics and industry estimates of the historical 'hold' percentage on baccarat, gross sales of VIP gaming chips in Macau approached one trillion patacas in the first six months of the year.

Teem collects 0.4 per cent of VIP chip sales at both the Sand's private Shanghai gaming room, controlled by licensed junket operator Sat Ieng, and the 15 VIP tables at the Wynn attached to rival junket operator Dore.

In the six months to February, Dore's chip turnover averaged HK$4.82 billion per month, resulting in a monthly dividend to Teem of about HK$19 million.

Sat Ieng's chip sales were roughly HK$2 billion per month, resulting in a monthly dividend for Teem of about HK$8 million.

Revenue from VIP baccarat, the game of choice among Macau's high-rollers, soared 58.3 per cent in the second quarter from a year ago and 6.3 per cent from the previous quarter to 13.2 billion patacas, making up 67.5 per cent of all casino winnings in the enclave, figures released this week by the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau show.

Macau's total casino revenue surged 50 per cent during the period to a record HK$19.57 billion.

Shares of Teem Foundation fell 1.01 per cent following the announcement to close yesterday at HK$2.95. They have risen 102 per cent so far this year.