Melco PBL Entertainment is keeping its financing options open for its US$1 billion City of Dreams project, according to Melco chairman Lawrence Ho Yau-lung. Although the joint venture between Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development and Australia's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) raised $1.27 billion for the project from a share placement last year, much of the financing is yet to be settled. 'We have to do the financing this year. The only reason we haven't done so is the bulk of the construction costs will be incurred in the second half of 2007,' Mr Ho said at the City of Dreams ground-breaking ceremony in Macau yesterday. 'We will complete the financing in due course.' He said the alternative was to pay interest over 18 months, which was not economical. The joint venture has delayed until next year plans to open its first casino, the Crown Macau. The six-star hotel and casino complex, which cost $1.5 billion, was fully financed, Mr Ho said. With City of Dreams, Melco PBL Entertainment would keep all financing options open, including syndicated loans and high-yield notes, he said. Mr Ho said he would not rule out a real estate investment trust but so far, the option had not been seriously considered. He said earlier that a listing was one possible way of financing City of Dreams, but no decision had been taken. Despite talk that plans for a costly underwater casino in the project have been scrapped, a statement yesterday by Melco PBL said the complex would include a 72,000 square metre casino with more than 450 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines in 'a tropical underwater environment'. City of Dreams, which will also include three hotels and two service apartment blocks, will open in the second half of 2008. Mr Ho said he expected the project to show a return within 'a short number of years'. Melco PBL was looking for new projects for the US$900 million casino sub-concession in Macau which it acquired from Wynn Resorts last month, he said. 'By buying the sub-concession, it allows us the flexibility to look for other opportunities in Macau. The gaming market is growing at a rapid rate, and we'll keep our eyes open for opportunities,' he said, adding there were no concrete plans for the sub-concession yet. Meanwhile, Mr Ho's father, Macau gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun, said yesterday that plans to list his privately held gaming assets on the Hong Kong stock exchange would be unaffected by opposition from his sister, Winnie Ho Yuen-ki. He said plans to list his Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau and its gaming subsidiary, Sociedade de Jogos de Macau, already had majority shareholder approval and the support of the Macau government.