What does retired soccer star David Beckham have to do with the booming hotel and casino trade in Macao and Singapore? Not a whole lot just yet, but that’s about to change in a major way.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS) and Beckham Ventures announced a partnership last week that will see the famed British athlete join forces with the integrated resort developer’s fast-growing Asian properties. Las Vegas Sands didn't release full details of the deal, but said the partnership was based around developing dining, retail and leisure concepts at Sands China Ltd. Properties in Macao and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
"We have billions of dollars invested in our own global, iconic brands and we clearly understand the importance of growing and sustaining those brands over time,” Michael Leven, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., said in a statement announcing the joint venture.
“The odds are extremely high that a partnership with David Beckham will help us further those efforts and provide David with the same benefit. We are very excited about the partnership and we fully expect it to grow in the years to come, especially as we aggressively explore opportunities to further expand our presence in Asia."
The company said Beckham’s “well-known personal values” and “endeavors in both business development and community outreach” made him the perfect match for its Asian brands to help spur growth.
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For his part, Beckham said “the scale, vision and caliber” of what Sands does enticed him to work with the company “to develop a range of new business ideas in a part of the world that I love spending time in and is full of optimism and growth."
Singapore’s three-pronged Marina Bay Sands was billed as the most-expensive casino hotel in the world when it opened in 2010 at a cost of S$8 billion ($6.4 billion). It boasts 2,560 rooms, a massive (and oft-photographed) rooftop infinity pool, and a casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. Earnings at the Marina Bay Sands, when combined with Genting Singapore PLC's Resorts World Sentosa, put Singapore just behind Las Vegas for third in the world in terms of gaming revenue at about $5.85 billion.
Macau, meanwhile, has long since eclipsed Las Vegas as the largest gambling mecca in the world with a record $38 billion in revenue in 2012, according to the Gaming Bureau. The tiny former Portuguese colony, which boasts China’s only gambling resort, generates more than five-times the haul of its American rival at some 35 casinos owned by six companies, including Las Vegas Sands.
Though earnings at Macau’s casinos rose 13.5 percent in 2012 over the year prior, growth was considerably lower than 2011, when revenue surged 42 percent year-on-year. As U.S.-based operators like Las Vegas Sands push ahead with massive expansion plans along the glittery Cotai Strip, they’re banking on a decidedly Las Vegas-like quality, star power, to keep the momentum up.