The Macau Metro Monitor, April 29th, 2010



Under proposal is a new law that would restrict the number of nonresident workers on construction projects, potentially disrupting ambitious expansion plans by the territory's casino developers. The legislation would require one local construction worker be employed for every worker from outside Macau brought onto a project, a government spokeswoman said this week. The restrictions, if enacted, would make it difficult for casino operators to hire the workers they need to complete their projects without severe delays. Casino operators have become very reliant on foreign labor, especially those from mainland China, because of the labor shortage in Macau.


For example, Sands CEO Steve Jacobs said last week that it plans to hire all 2,000 qualified, available local workers for an expansion project, but that the rest of the construction force (~8,000 workers, according to analysts) would need to come from Hong Kong or mainland China. The company hopes to launch the new property in the third quarter of 2011.


"The quicker we get a long-term policy on foreign labor the better," said an executive at a casino operator, who also expressed concern about the news earlier in the month that the government would impose a levy of about 200 patacas (about US$25) per month on employers for each foreign worker they hire.


Secretary Yam said the government has not received yet any request from any gaming operator to sell part of its non-core business assets in Macau.

Tam’s remarks came after Las Vegas Sands chairman Sheldon Adelson said he hoped to raise up to US$12 billion (MOP96 billion) from the sale of the group’s malls and apartments in Macau. “We need to understand how a potential assets’ sale is to happen since the gaming concession contract states that, in the end, the casino must be handed out to the government,” Tam said. “We will study it on a case-by-case approach, depending on each request,” he added.



More units at Marina Bay Suites are expected to be released this week. The initial batch of 90-odd units released by the developer late last year were sold at between $1,900 per square foot and $2,600 psf. At the nearby Marina Bay Residences, units have transacted in the sub-sale market at $2,100 psf to $3,050 psf. Joseph Tan, executive director (residential) at CB Richard Ellis, which is one of the marketing agents for Marina Bay Suites, notes that owners of high-floor, prime facing units in the project are currently asking prices ranging from $3,800 to $5,600 psf. Over in the Holland Road area, CLSA Capital Partners Real Estate Fund and Lippo sold six units at their Holland Collection project last week. This means that the developers have sold eight units in the 26-unit project since previewing the project last month. Units sold last week include two penthouses (at about $6.3 million each) and a strata bungalow that fetched $6 million. The buyers in the freehold project are mostly foreigners. The eight units sold to date are priced between $1,850 psf and $2,200 psf. However, sales of condos on Sentosa Cove continue to be slow. For instance, CDL has to date sold about 25 units at The Residences at W Sentosa Cove. The 99-year leasehold project, priced at $2,500-3,000 psf, has been on the market for nearly a month now. To date, CDL has released 56 of the project's 228 units.


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