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November 16, 2009

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Sands to proceed on casinos in January

UNITED States casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp plans to resume work in January on its multibillion-dollar gambling resorts in Macau after suspending construction last year amid a massive funding crunch, the company said yesterday.

This week Sands will seek to raise more than US$3.3 billion from an initial public offering of shares in its casino businesses in the southern Chinese enclave, the world's largest casino market.

About US$500 million will be used to restart construction on the projects, executives said. The company plans to hire as many as 12,000 workers after 11,000 jobs were cut as a result of the suspension.

The projects, including casinos and Shangri-La and Sheraton hotels, were stalled last year as the company grappled with a cash shortage, brought on by the financial crisis and Sands' massive debt load, that threatened its agreements with creditors.

Sands' latest casino resorts are part of Chairman Sheldon Adelson's quest to turn a section of Macau into a Chinese version of the Las Vegas Strip with a mix of gambling, conventions, shopping, entertainment and other attractions.

"We expect that Macau will evolve into the same type of business model that the integrated resorts on the Las Vegas Strip have evolved into," Adelson said in a video conference with reporters in Hong Kong.

Sands' new shares are expected to begin trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on November 30, with the share price to be determined on November 21, according to the IPO's terms.


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