The company said this week that it wants to sell its mall at Marina Bay Sands for an astounding $4 billion in the next few years. This is a similar strategy to what Las Vegas Sands did in Las Vegas at The Venetian.
The first phase of The Venetian was built for $1.5 billion in the late '90s, and in 2004 The Grand Canal Shops at the casino were sold to General Growth Properties (NYSE: GGP ) for $766 million. Grand plans for a similar model in Macau have yet to take shape, but asset sales there could happen in the future as well.
Competitors Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN ) and Melco Crown (Nasdaq: MPEL ) haven't followed a similar model of selling off non-core assets to pay for construction costs in their casinos. MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM ) made an attempt with CityCenter, trying to sell condos in the development, but that attempt blew up in its face and has resulted in massive writedowns since the condo bubble burst.
It remains to be seen what Las Vegas Sands could sell the Marina Bay Sands mall for and when it may happen, but investors would be happy to see it happen. Gambling is the true cash cow in Asia, and if you can pay for a major portion of a new casino by selling the attached mall, the resulting return on assets goes through the roof. Still, it's not all smooth sailing in Singapore.
Restrictions in Singapore
Singapore officials have told Las Vegas Sands that no more than 30% of visitors to the Marina Bay Sands casino should be Singaporean, according to reports. The Singapore government views the casinos as tourist destinations and doesn't want the domestic market supporting gaming.
No word whether casino bouncers will be given tally counters to ensure compliance.