LAS VEGAS-Australia’s Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. (PBL) has agreed to take a 19.6% stake in locally based casino resort developer Fontainebleau Resorts LLC. The price tag counts $250 million and will buffet development of two major projects in the pipeline.

Fontainebleau Resorts is developing Fontainebleau-Las Vegas, a $2.8-billion, 63-story casino project on 24.5 acres on the Las Vegas Strip. Also on tap is the $500-million renovation of Fontainebleau-Miami Beach. The local project eyes a fall 2009 opening while the Miami Beach-site rehab is set for completion in summer 2008.

Fontainebleau-Las Vegas will feature a 100,000-sf casino and 3,889 luxury hotel rooms, suites and condominium-hotel units. The project is also tapped to include signature restaurants, nightclubs, a spa and extensive meeting and convention facilities. In Miami Beach, the 16-acre project there includes more than 1,500 luxury guest rooms and suites, a 40,000-sf spa, 11 restaurants, nightclubs and lounges and approximately 200,000 sf of meeting and convention space.

The investment deal between PBL and Fontainebleau is expected to close next month. For PBL, this investment launches it into the US market with a big splash, according to PBL’s executive chairman James Packer. “This transaction provides PBL Gaming with a first-class entrance into the US casino resort market, in particular, the renowned Las Vegas Strip,” Packer says in an official company statement.

Fontainebleau Resorts was co-founded in 2005 by two of the resort community’s mainstays: Jeffrey Soffer and Glenn Schaeffer. Executive chairman and majority owner Jeffrey Soffer is principal of the Turnberry group of companies, while CEO Glenn Schaeffer is former president and CEO of Mandalay Resort Group. About the deal, Soffer commented that the partnership could lead to “growth opportunities.”

While specific details were not revealed concerning growth, company papers said the two announced projects “are intended to serve as the growth platform for the international expansion of the Fontainebleau brand.” That international flavor is most likely where PBL’s platform will be a driving force on the international front. The gaming and entertainment group is among the top 25 companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of more than $11 billion.

PBL owns and operates two of Australia’s leading gaming and entertainment complexes, Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne and Burswood International Resort and Casino in Perth. The firm holds a 41% stake in Melco PBL Entertainment, which is listed on NASDAQ and also owns a 50% interest in Aspinall’s, a UK gaming and entertainment company that owns and operates casinos in and around London.

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