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LAS VEGAS-Las Vegas Sands Corp. said Monday that its wholly-owned subsidiary Sands China Ltd. could raise as much as $3.68 billion from its initial public offering of up to 30% of itself on the Hong Kong stock exchange. The publicly traded casino operator intends to use the proceeds to repay debt and restart stalled construction projects in Macau.

Las Vegas Sands intends to offer as many as 2.057 billion shares of Sands China Ltd., including overallotments for somewhere between HK$10.38 and HK$13.88 each–$1.34 and $1.79. A sellout would generate between $2.756 billion and $3.579 billion and leave Las Vegas Sands Corp. with between 70% and 72% of the post-issuance capital based of Sands China Ltd.

Last week, Las Vegas Sands filed its required disclosure statement detailing the operations of Sands China, which holds the company’s operations in Macau. Competitor Wynn Resorts Ltd. completed a $1.87-billion IPO on the Hong Kong exchange for its Macau operations at the start of the month, within two weeks of filing the disclosure statement.

Macau, a special administrative region of China, is the only place in the county where gambling is legal. The gambling industry there started in 1962 when the government issued a single license to Stanley Ho. The monopoly ended in 2002 and several licenses were handed out. In 2006, the market surpassed Las Vegas as the world’s largest gaming market.

Currently, Las Vegas Sands owns three operating casino resorts there–the Venetian Macao, the Sands Macao and the Plaza, which have a combined 3,554 suites and hotel rooms, 1,098 table games, 3,631 slot machines and over 60 different restaurants and food outlets. Sands Macau opened in 2004, followed by the Venetian Macau in 2007 and then the Plaza in 2008. It also owns CotaiArena, Macau’s largest entertainment venue and one of the largest convention and exhibition halls in Asia, and one of three major high-speed ferry companies operating between Hong Kong and Macau.

The company’s next phase of development in Macau is known as the Cotai Strip, where it controls five parcels. The company said it is in the final stages of a draft land concession from the Macau Government for land known as Parcels 5 & 6 in Cotai. The company has plans for a 13-million-square-foot, $4.3-billion integrated resort on the two parcels that would be completed in three phases. After that, it would develop Parcel 3 with an additional 3,900 branded hotel rooms and will be connected to the Plaza and the convention and exhibition hall at The Venetian Macao. Parcels 7 and 8 are expected to contain an integrated resort that would be similar in size and scope to the integrated resort located on Parcels 5 and 6.

“Our ultimate plans for Cotai include five interconnected integrated resorts, which leverage a wide range of branded hotel and resort offerings to attract different segments of the market,” the company states in its filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange. “When complete, we expect our Cotai Strip development to contain over 20,000 hotel rooms, approximately 1.6 million square feet of meeting, convention and exhibition space, over two million square feet of retail malls, six theaters and other amenities.”

The $2-billion first phase of Parcels 5 and 6 would include 3,700 rooms in two hotel towers [flying Sheraton, Shangri-La and Traders flags], 300,000 square feet of casino area and approximately 1.2 million square feet consisting of retail, entertainment and dining facilities, meeting space and a multi-purpose theater. The first phase also includes the structural work for an adjacent 2,300-room Sheraton hotel tower that would be fit out in the $190-million second phase along with some of the remaining retail facilities. The $443-million third phase is slated to include a luxury St. Regis-branded hotel and condo-hotel tower.

“We began construction of Parcels 5 and 6 in 2006 and suspended construction in November 2008 due to the global economic downturn,” the company states in its filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange. “We plan to restart construction of Phases I and II with a portion of the proceeds from [the IPO], together with supplemental financing that we are currently seeking to obtain from a group of lenders.”

On Monday the company provided additional detail with regard to the supplemental financing, explaining that Sands Macau has been seeking commitments for $1.75 billion in project financing and recently received commitments from a group of commercial banks and financial institutions to provide $1.45 billion. “VOL is also actively seeking to obtain commitments from other commercial banks and financial institutions to provide” the remaining $300 million in financing.

When that has been completed, the company estimates it will take 18 months to compete the first phase and an additional six months to complete the second phase hotel tower and an additional 24 months to complete the remaining retail facilities planned for the second phase. As of mid year, Sands had capitalized construction costs of approximately $1.7 billion for the two parcels. If the supplemental financing is obtained, it expects to spend an additional $2.2 million to complete the first two phases.

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