Genting plans rights issue in Singapore

City A.M. Reporter
CASINO operator Genting Singapore is raising $1.2bn (&pound;725m) in a rights issue for possible acquisitions, leading a bout of fund-raising by casino companies in Asia taking advantage of rising stock markets.<br /><br />The Singapore firm also said yesterday its Resorts World at Sentosa casino development is on track, both in terms of project costs and timing, for a &ldquo;soft opening&rdquo; in early 2010, debunking fears of more cost overruns at its massive project in the city-state.<br /><br />Las Vegas Sands, the world&rsquo;s most valuable casino firm, plans to spin off its Macau operations in a Hong Kong initial public offering to raise as much as $3bn, while Wynn Resorts is expected to list its Macau business in the fourth quarter.<br /><br />&ldquo;The rights issue will strengthen the company&rsquo;s financials and put us in a strong position to tap strategic opportunities,&rdquo; Genting Singapore managing director Justin Tan said in a statement.<br /><br />But speculation remained strong that the issue was to address cost overruns at the Resorts World at Sentosa casino that it is building in the city-state, as AmResearch said in a research note issued before the company formally announced the issue.<br /><br />Analysts also said the Singapore unit's fund-raising may result in parent company Genting tapping 4bn ringgit ($1.14bn) in cash held by Genting Malaysia, which operates the group&rsquo;s lucrative casino business in the Muslim country.<br /><br />Genting Singapore&rsquo;s cash call &ldquo;could be a catalyst for Genting Bhd to accelerate the sale of its noncore assets or push Genting Malaysia to pay out its 4bn ringgit cash hoard,&rdquo; JPMorgan said in a note to clients.