Shortages delay Marina Bay Sands opening

Construction of Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands mega-resort has reached the top floor, but shortages of labor and materials are pushing forward the opening of the US$5.5 billion extravaganza by several months, owner Las Vegas Sands said.

The first phase of the resort’s opening, which is located in the city-state’s bustling Central Business District, will occur early next year instead of the end of the this year, the company said.

“We can’t control the flow of sand to make concrete with, we can’t control the availability of steel ... and we can’t control the availability of labor due to other projects that are in the market,” said LVS Chairman Sheldon Adelson, who spoke to Agence France-Presse at last month’s topping-off ceremony for the project’s three 55-story hotels.

Sands SkyPark, a massive observation deck, is the next critical phase of construction. Weighing 7,000 tons, it must be hoisted in sections 200 meters to the top of the hotel towers using technology employed in building bridges. The process of lifting each of the sections can take a full day. When it is completed, it will be longer horizontally than the Eiffel Tower is tall and will be the largest cantilevered public observation deck in the world.

Marina Bay Sands will house 2,600 hotel rooms and suites in addition to its casino. The elaborate amenities mix includes high-end restaurants, a museum, convention and exhibition space, an outdoor events plaza and retail and performing arts facilities.

“Over the next few months we will unveil a range of luxury brand shops, celebrity chef restaurants and world-class entertainment for Marina Bay Sands. There will truly be something for everyone,” said George Tanasijevich, general manager and vice president of Singapore Development, Marina Bay Sands Pte.



CASINO REFERENDUM GETS THE OK IN PENGHU

Taiwan’s Cabinet has approved a plan for the Penghu group of islands to hold a vote on allowing casinos, and official notification of the decision was sent to the county government.

The referendum could be held as early as this month or as late as January 2010, according to a Penghu official.

Chang Jui-Tung, director-general of the Penghu county government’s Civil Affairs Bureau, said proponents now have six months to secure a minimum of 3,523 signatures for a referendum petition that will be submitted to the Penghu Election Commission. The commission will evaluate the petition and set the date for the referendum if the proposal is approved.

Penghu voters have approved casinos in previous plebiscites and are expected to do so again.

Penghu officials have endorsed a proposal for resort-scale casinos at two locations within a planned 120-hectare “vacation village” that will also include a non-gaming hotel, retail shopping, a convention center and golf courses.

The central government voted to legalize casino gambling earlier this year.



ARISTOCRAT ESTABLISHES NEW EXECUTIVE TEAM

Aristocrat Leisure has appointed a new executive team to oversee development and execution of what the global slot giant calls its “business transformation strategy”.

As announced by Jamie Odell, CEO and managing director, the group includes Toni Korsanos, who has been named chief financial officer, Julius Patta, appointed chief technology officer, Sam Nickless, named “business transformation director,” and Patrick McGlinchey, appointed chief legal officer and company secretary.

Korsanos joined Aristocrat in 2007 as general manager, Group Finance and brings to his new position almost two decades of financial and general management experience. He replaces Simon Kelly, who was scheduled to leave the company on July 31. Patta’s specialties are software engineering and game design and development. He has led a number of leading-edge gaming operations and technology businesses in North America, Australia and Europe. He replaces Gareth Phillips, who will continue with the company in a senior advisory capacity, and will be based in the United States. Nickless has more than 15 years’ experience leading complex strategic change programs, most recently at the National Australia Bank and previously with McKinsey & Company in Australia and in the United States. McGlinchey has extensive international corporate, commercial and governance experience both with listed companies and in private practice.

Other key appointments include Trevor Croker, named managing director of the company’s Australia and New Zealand interests, and Warren Jowett, who takes on responsibility for regions outside Australia, New Zealand and the Americas as managing director, EMEA, Asia Pacific and Japan. He replaces Rob McLoughlin, general manager EMEA, who will retire on October 31.

Nick Khin, president Aristocrat Americas, will continue in his current role.

The research and development department is being renamed Design and Development and will continue to be led by David Hughes with the title of chief design and development officer.

Details of the new strategy will be shared when the company announces its half-year results on August 25, Odell said.