Wed, Mar 06, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Malaysia’s Genting buys Las Vegas Strip site

AFP, WASHINGTON

Malaysian gaming giant Genting Group on Monday bought a piece of the Las Vegas Strip from Boyd Gaming Group for US$350 million in cash, its first foray into the US gambling capital.

Genting will build a hotel-casino complex on the 35 hectare parcel of land where Boyd’s unfinished Echelon project ground to a halt in 2008 after the financial markets crashed and recession deepened.

Genting said the site would be used to create Resorts World Las Vegas, a “world-class destination resort,” with an initial 3,500 rooms, 16,258m2 of total gaming space and convention facilities.

The land sits on the north end of the glitzy Strip, where the skeletons of stalled projects testify to the hard times when money dried up in the country’s Great Recession.

Genting Group chairman and chief executive Lim Kok Thay (林國泰), flanked by leading Nevada officials, including US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, announced the purchase earlier in the day.

“We are incredibly grateful to the leaders of the State of Nevada, Clark County and the City of Las Vegas for joining us in announcing what will be a fantastic addition to the top resort destination in the United States,” Lim said in a statement.

Genting said the construction and operation process of the complex would bring tens of thousands of jobs to southern Nevada for many years.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said the deal proved the Strip was on a roll.

“The entrance of one of the world’s leading resort gaming developers into Nevada is another fantastic sign that Las Vegas and the Strip are poised for great things moving forward in 2013 and beyond,” he said.

Boyd Gaming on late Monday announced the Echelon sale had closed.

The struggling casino operator booked a one-time charge of approximately US$994 million on its fourth-quarter results last year.

Boyd Gaming posted a loss of US$27.7 million for the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of US$2.9 million in the year-ago period.

“The sale of the Echelon site is another important step in the ongoing effort to improve our long-term financial position,” Keith Smith, Boyd Gaming president and CEO, said in a separate statement. “While we remain committed to the Las Vegas market, we determined that developing a large-scale project on the Las Vegas Strip was not consistent with our current strategy.”

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