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March 5, 2009

Singapore: Casino-hotel to open by year-end
The $5.4 billion Marina Bay Sands is on target to open by year-end. The construction of its hotel towers has passed the halfway mark and is due to be "topped out" in July.

With the current downturn and parent company Las Vegas Sands running into money problems, there were concerns about the impact on the Marina Bay project. But funding is not an issue, Chanel News Asia quoted the company as saying.

Bradley Stone, president, Global Operations & Construction, Las Vegas Sands Corp, said: "We have a fully-funded project here in Singapore. We put the financing in place in December 07. And we have been putting in equity as planned from the parent company.

"What happened in Macau (is that) we were launching those projects right in the face of the credit crunch. What happened in Macau certainly won't happen here. The project is funded and a lot by local banks here in Singapore, and we are very confident in our ability to complete this on a timely basis."

Marina Bay Sands said at least half of the property will be operational by year-end. It is in discussions with Singapore authorities on the timeline.

George Tanasijevich, general manager and VP, Singapore Development, Marina Bay Sands, said: "We are not going to open this property until we have at least 50 per cent of it complete, and this includes all the compelling aspects of the project.

"Certain pieces will come on later. We are working with the tourism board and government to refine what that schedule will be. A sizeable proportion of the hotel rooms will be included in the initial opening.

"But I can assure you that what we open in the initial phase of it will be a full-fledged IR (integrated resort) that is compelling from a tourism standpoint and something that Singapore can be proud of."

All four floors of the casino area have been constructed - with workers due to start on the roof next. The massive convention and exhibition space and retail mall next to it is also making good progress.

And while construction for the ArtScience Museum and theatres is still ongoing, plans for bringing in big acts like Broadway productions are underway.

The distinctive hotel towers - that slope at a 26-degree angle - with 2,600 rooms have reached the halfway mark at about 28 floors, with hotel rooms being fitted out in tandem.

Singapore's visitor arrivals fell almost 13 per cent in January to 771,000 from the same period a year ago. However, despite the recent gloomy tourist arrival numbers, Marina Bay Sands remains confident the cards are stacked in its favour.

The company plans to make Marina Bay Sands a global attraction, but the markets it is targeting first are China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as the Middle East and Russia.

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