All In

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 October, 2008, 12:00am

A new pecking order

Gone are the days when Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands ranked as the world's largest gaming company by market value.

The dramatic sell-down in casino operators with exposure to Macau and Las Vegas has done nothing short of turn the industry's pecking order on its head.

While valuations are shifting by the day, a quick snapshot of the state of play as of yesterday is telling:

Wynn Resorts Steve Wynn's eponymous firm now occupies the top spot in the gaming universe with a market capitalisation of US$5.1 billion, despite shares falling 67 per cent in the past year to US$49.30.

Genting Bhd Malaysian casino operator controlled by Genting Highlands founder's son, Lim Kok Thay, claims silver as its shares have outperformed the downward spiral by shedding 'only' 39 per cent in the past year. Market value stands at US$4.8 billion.

MGM Mirage Las Vegas Strip titan and Pansy Ho Chiu-king's Macau joint- venture partner has fallen 84 per cent in the past year, with market value now US$4.1 billion.

Las Vegas Sands Mr Adelson's highly leveraged resort development has fallen the most of any of the players. Valued at more than US$51 billion just one year ago, its market capitalisation has shed an astonishing US$47 billion and stood at an unlucky US$3.888 as of yesterday.

IGT Shares in the world's largest slot machine maker have fallen 70 per cent; its market value is now US$3.6 billion.

Selective disclosure

All In couldn't help but notice that Amax Entertainment, the VIP junket partner to Melco Crown Entertainment's Crown Macau casino, has stopped putting out monthly disclosures of its VIP chip sales.

Amax has released the figures on a voluntary basis each month since it inked a deal with the Crown back in December of last year, but didn't disclose data for last month - when Macau's gaming revenue fell 3.4 per cent from a year ago and 28 per cent from the previous month.

Instead, the company released a profit warning yesterday to say it had swung to a net profit of around HK$220 million in the six months to September from a loss of HK$51 million a year ago on the back of the Crown VIP junket deal. The increase is to be expected, but sheds little light on more recent performance.

Amax chief executive Ted Chan Ying-tat has denied that AMA International, its junket 'aggregator', is pulling out of the Crown. Still, it doesn't help matters that some of AMA's sub-junkets are rumoured to have defected in the past month or so.

For a clearer picture, investors will probably have to wait until the middle of next month, when Amax reports finalised results.

'Show me the money'

Richard Suen, the Hong Kong businessman who won a US$58.6 million judgment against Mr Adelson and Las Vegas Sands earlier this year for helping secure a Macau gaming licence six years ago, is asking the company to 'show me the money'.

Lawyers for Mr Suen have asked a district court in Las Vegas to order the company to post a bond to guarantee the award can and will be paid, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

'The global financial crisis has called into question Las Vegas Sands' financial liquidity and ability to pay its debts,' the paper quoted a motion by Mr Suen's lawyers as saying.

Lawyers for the company are disputing the award amount, and that matter is set for a hearing next month. But the judge is expected to hear the bond argument on Monday.

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