Gaming operator weighs options to raise funds after opening of StarWorld Galaxy Entertainment Group, the Macau gaming operator controlled by Lui Che-woo, plans to raise about US$300 million from the sale of convertible bonds, a share placement or both, according to market sources. 'Nothing's been finalised. The company is deciding what it sees as best,' a source familiar with the situation said. Any bonds that Galaxy plans to sell will be placed to private investors, sources said. The company's shares were suspended from trading yesterday, pending an announcement related to the possible sale of convertible notes or new shares, according to an announcement filed with the Hong Kong stock exchange. The shares last traded at HK$8.40, up 92 per cent this year. Galaxy sold US$600 million worth of bonds in December last year, a move that drove its finance costs up to HK$288.8 million in the first half this year from HK$6 million a year ago. The company lost HK$734.45 in the first half, compared with a HK$14.3 billion profit in the same period last year, because of interest paid from financing the HK$18.4 billion purchase of a gaming licence last year. The cash call came after Galaxy in October opened the HK$2.95 billion StarWorld, its fifth and most ambitious casino to date in Macau. In July, the company said it planned to spend US$1 billion in Macau by 2008. Galaxy plans to operate nine high-stakes gaming rooms with 36 tables at StarWorld before the Lunar New Year. About 30 of those tables will not involve the use of VIP operators, said Galaxy deputy chairman Francis Lui Yiu-tung, the son of Mr Lui Che-woo. The casino operated three high-stakes gaming rooms with 12 tables and 250 mass-market tables at the end of last month. Galaxy also plans to open the 1,500-room Mega Resort in 2008. The hotel represents phase one of the development of a 4.7 million square foot plot of land on the Cotai Strip, for which the company said in September it will pay a HK$2.5 billion land premium to the Macau government. The firm hopes to corner 25 per cent of Macau's HK$45 billion gaming market by the end of this year. It held 20 per cent of the market in August. Gross gaming revenue in Macau will top 53 billion patacas this year and hit 55.2 billion patacas next year, according to analysts' projections. Five casinos have opened in Macau this year, bringing the total to 22. That took the number of gaming tables up 25 per cent to 2,440. In addition to StarWorld, Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn opened the Wynn Casino in September with 200 tables. Rival United States operator Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands in August lifted the number of its tables to 740, at a cost of US$99 million, by adding 273 more gaming tables.