Grant Bowie, chief executive of MGM China, appears to be on a PR counter-attack. After the land department director came out a few weeks ago with a statement that only two out of three of the Cotai applicants would likely get their land this year, speculation mounted that MGM was likely the odd man out. But Bowie has made a valiant attempt to dispel such notions, telling reporters at the company’s media spring dinner on Friday that the Cotai project application is well advanced, and can be easily supported by existing cash flows, even after the payment of a special dividend announced last week.
We admire Bowie’s confidence. It might not be misplaced, either. Why should anyone assume that Wynn will get their land before MGM? What is the substantive difference between the two, anyway? They are both controlled by Americans. Okay, so only one of them has a parent facing an FCPA enquiry by the SEC and possibly the DOJ, but still.
Unless, of course, Jaime Carion wasn’t thinking about either of them when he made his statement about two out of three. Hang on, let’s adjust our thinking a bit here, people. Who exactly is in line for Cotai approvals, come to think of it?
It depends, we suppose, on how one defines “approvals” and how one defines “projects”.
Strictly speaking, we would have to assume that Lawrence Ho needs some kind of approval to get going on Macao Studio City. He doesn’t need a full-scale land grant, but he does need some pretty big modifications “approved” to the original land concession he inherited by buying out Peter Lam and David Friedman from the project.
Then there is his fellow princeling across on the other side of Cotai – but wait, sorry, Francis Lui and Galaxy don’t need any “approval” for their land development plans from Carion; they can do pretty much what they like on on the biggest single parcel of land in Cotai, as long as the MGTO and the DICJ “approve” their designs.
Swinging back across to this side of Cotai, we see two SJM projects earmarked for development, one for each side of the SJM family. Who would like to be the government official that decides whether Wife No. 2/3 or Wife No. 4 can go first with their projects? And isn’t there another parcel there that was slated for development by Shun Tak and Jumeirah? Now that Pansy is a minority shareholder of MGM, we would love to see some bright and diligent analyst do a calculation of which company Pansy has a bigger financial stake in – Shun Tak, SJM, or MGM.
There is also no way we could get a Cotai land party started without you know who, who likes to remind us every now and then that he still has a piece of land sitting in the center of it all (sorry, west of center, now that Lot 5&6 has been declared the center). What is there to suppose that the grand master of Cotai, the one who created the original vision for it all, can’t get his final project approved before the end of the year?
Oh, and did we forget the table cap? Silly us. Grant says he wants 500 tables. Steve says he wants roughly that amount. Lawrence says he wants at least 400, but we guess he’s probably hoping for more. Francis isn’t going to build his second phase without some tables in it, surely? SJM would be looking for a number commensurate with its scale and ambitions, and those wives are not likely to settle for anything less than 600 each. Sheldon will have to up the ante, surely, by asking for more tables in Lot 3.
We don’t know about you, dear readers, but we stopped counting long ago. Because it doesn’t add up. Everyone wants their approvals. Everyone feels entitled to them. What a change from the days when Stanley, Steve, and the rest of them laughed at the Cotai club. We wish them all the best of luck in their endeavors today. Copyright and used with permission IntelMacau.com