Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Universal Studios Singapore to open next week: Lim Kok Thay

Genting looking at investment opportunities in US

KUALA LUMPUR: Genting Bhd, which has invested in US-listed MGM Mirage Inc’s bonds, is looking at a number of investment opportunities in the United States, according to chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay.

He said the group was looking for “larger investments” as the global financial crisis which started in the United States had offered a number of opportunities. However, he declined to identify any investment target.

“If there are opportunities that offer good value for our investments, definitely the group will be looking at (them),” Lim said after the launch of the logo for the group’s 45th anniversary and a year-long celebration yesterday.

At the launch of Genting’s 45th anniversary logo are (front row from left) executive director Tan Sri Amin Osman, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, deputy chairman Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar, director Tan Sri Clifford Francis, (back row from left) Genting Sanyen CEO Ong Tiong Soon, Genting Malaysia president/COO Datuk Lee Choong Yan, Genting president and COO Tan Kong Han, director Gen (R) Tan Sri Mohd Zahidi Zainuddin, Genting Singapore MD Justin Tan and Genting director Quah Chek Tin.

MGM, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, owns and operates more than 15 properties in the United States.

Lim said the group’s investment in MGM bonds was considered a good investment in terms of value as it had registered returns in excess of 10% from the subscription.

Last month, it was reported that Kien Huat Realty Sdn Bhd, one of Lim’s family-owned companies, made a loan to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts.

To a question, Lim explained that it was a private loan to the tribe who wanted to set up a casino in Massachusetts and had nothing to do with the Genting group.

Asked if the group would be aggressive in its investment this year, he said the group this year would invest more in areas that would give optimal returns and fit well with its strategy.

“We have great financial strength, so we can take on large projects.

“Our funding needs are taken care of, we don’t have any need for any fund raising at the moment,” Lim said.

Meanwhile, Genting is also looking at setting up a hub comprising premium outlets, a theme park and hotels in Iskandar Malaysia, in a bid to lure visitors to its casino resort in Malaysia and Singapore.

“We want visitors to Resort World Sentosa to come to our Malaysian resorts as well,” Lim said, adding that the proposed hub in Iskandar Malaysia would act as a mid-point to draw visitors to both its resorts.

He said the development could attract millions of visitors each year. The group hopes to attract as many as 30 million visitors a year in five years’ time.

“We expect visitors to breach the 20 million mark this year. Hopefully by our 50th anniversary we will attract 25 million to 30 million visitors,” Lim said.

He said the hub would also complement its joint venture with Chelsea Malaysia LLC, a division of Simon Property Group, to set up a Chelsea Premium Outlet in Iskandar Malaysia.

Lim said the group via Genting Plantations Bhd would invest RM200mil to develop the premium outlet in Iskandar Malaysia.

Genting group, with a market capitalisation of about RM85.4bil as at Dec 31, 2009, will open the first part of its US$4.4bil integrated casino-resort in Singapore today, beginning with four hotels.

“The progressive opening of the resort began two weeks ago, with the completion and opening of Festive Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel Singapore.

“Last week, Hotel Michael was opened and tomorrow Crockford Tower will be opened,” Lim said, adding that by the end of next week, Universal Studios Singapore would be opened and Resort World Sentosa will be launched by this year.

Commenting on its casino licence for Resort World Sentosa, Lim said Genting had yet to be issued with the licence. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re ready to open,” he said.

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