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MACAU PROPERTY PRICES STILL 33% BELOW PEAK LEVELS HIT IN 2007 scmp.com

Despite the steep recovery in property prices on the mainland and in Hong Kong, Macau has been slower to rebound.  In Shanghai and Beijing, prices are back to their pre-crisis peak levels and in Hong Kong prices are now within 6% of last year’s peak levels.  Macau’s property prices are still 33% below peak levels reached at the end of 2007.  

SCMP sees an implied upward trend, citing eight catalysts driving a recovery in the Macau property market: improving news flow, relaxation of visa restrictions, macro recovery, an equity market rebound, the successful opening of Melco’s City of Dreams, greater co-operation among operators, cost-cutting, and foreign exchange and tax changes.

MACAU PERSPECTIVES: IPO DOUBTS gamblingcompliance.com

Regulators could still find significant obstacles to put in the way of both Wynn and LVS’s IPO bids in Hong Kong.  Although news has emerged that visa restrictions could possibly ease from October, and stock market conditions are favorable, GC sees the listing committee as being less cooperative than analysts may be assuming.  LVS is singled out as having serious issues to resolve vis-à-vis its liquidity, stalled projects, and the Singapore project that is stretching its financial capacity.

There is concern over where LVS will put money to raise from an IPO.  Another question is whether or not LVS will be able to sell its Four Seasons condominiums to the public as planned.  There is a potential conflict, also, in that LVS could be incentivized to compel patrons to go to their venue in Singapore, where gaming tax will be lower.  Whether LVS has the right to run its CotaiJets ferry concession, “a key tool to support visitation”, is under litigation.  Yet another issue is whether Singapore will allow junket operators.  A South Korean junket operator with a VIP room at the Venetian Macau was recently arrested for “running an unlicensed gaming operation”.  To speculate that the Singapore government may be averse to inviting such characters to their shores might not be too wild an assumption.

For Wynn, there are rumors circulating that dependence on a certain junket operator could see its market share in Macau slip to fifth among Macau’s operators.  This could obviously, if true, affect the stock.

UPDATE: TAUBMAN PULLS OUT OF MACAU STUDIO CITY macaudailytimesnews.com

Taubman Centers has pulled out of Macau Studio City, recovering its 25%, US$65 million interest in the shopping mall development.  Morgan Parker, Taubman’s Asia Pacific region president is cited as saying, “Under the established agreement, if the developers, Cyber One, were unable to secure financing within an 18 month period, Taubman would get its 25% share back.  That’s what happened, as the set period expired on August 11th.”