Neptune Group eyes HK$138m stock offer to fund casino forays

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2007, 12:00am

Neptune Group, the Macau gambling junket investor and cruise ship operator, will sell new shares worth up to HK$138.13 million to fund new casino-related investments in the enclave.

The company said it would sell 247.6 million new shares representing 11.46 per cent of existing share capital for 57 HK cents apiece, a 10.94 per cent discount to their closing price before trading was suspended on Monday.

Yesterday's announcement pushed shares down 10.94 per cent to 57 HK cents, the same as the placing price.

Proceeds from the sale will be used for unidentified 'possible investment projects in relation to Macau gaming business', the firm said.

Neptune's share sale is the latest in a string of trips to the market this year by companies seeking to fund investments in Macau VIP gaming junket operators, the middlemen who bring high rollers to casinos, lend them money and collect their gambling debts.

Last week rival junket investor Teem Foundation said it would raise up to HK$546.65 million in two share placements to buy a stake in a VIP gaming junket analysts said would be attached to Las Vegas Sands Corp's US$2.4 billion Venetian casino resort.

Neptune, formerly known as Massive Resources, paid HK$240 million in two separate deals earlier this year for minority interests in two junkets. Those deals have seen the company's shares triple in value in the year to date.

The company receives 20 per cent of the profit from junket operators attached to the Sands Macao's five-table VIP room and the five-table VIP club at the Galaxy StarWorld casino.

Junket operators in Macau receive a fixed commission on gross sales of VIP gambling chips which, at the high end, can equal up to 40 per cent of a casino's revenue from high-stakes play.

Revenue from VIP baccarat in Macau, the most popular game among 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 (HK$12.8 billion), making up 67.5 per cent of all casino winnings in the enclave, figures released last week by the Gaming Inspection and Co-ordination Bureau show.