James Packer says Chinese punters will eventually soothe his Macau casino pain

27 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

James Packer confirms delay to Sydney Barangaroo casino project.

Macau – Batman and Wonder Woman are just some of the superheroes that casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment is deploying at its new $3.2 billion casino in Macau, which opens on Tuesday in the midst of a sharp downturn for the Asian gambling playground.The 48-year-old was joined by Robert De Niro, Leonardo Di Caprio and Martin Scorsese at the launch of Studio City, a $4.4billion movie-themed complex in Macau.Australian billionaire James Packer has thanked his mates “Bob, Leo and Marty” for the $US70 million “short film” The Audition, which promotes his new $US3.3 billion Macau casino, which opens tonight.Hedge funds are looking to short Macau stocks after a sharp rally from the bottom, while long-only investors are cautious because they don’t want to be caught in the storm, concluded Credit Suisse after meeting with 80 clients during a marketing trip.

Mr Packer, speaking at the opening of his new $US3.2 billion Studio City casino resort in Macau, said across his vast business portfolio the Sydney Barangaroo project topped his list. Mariah Carey will headline a star-studded opening ceremony for the Hollywood-themed Studio City resort, Melco Crown’s third in the southern Chinese territory, the only place in the country where casino gambling is legal. The typically stoney-faced mogul could barely contain his joy at a press conference attended by the stars, laughing as De Niro delighted their audience with jokes.

Late last year a payment disagreement between Mr Packer’s casino partner Lend Lease and the New South Wales government looked set to delay the development. Page Six previously reported that the trio were each paid a cool $17million for their time, with the entire production setting Melco-Crown back around $96million. Mr Packer said his father sowed the seeds for Crown’s push into Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, in 2004 as China looked to open up its only legal gambling jurisdiction to international competition.

But following last week’s announcement of Crown’s new 90-story tower on Southbank, Packer today told media the construction of the Barangaroo casino was his priority. “In my business life there is nothing more important than Crown Sydney. In light of the volatile market, uncertain fundamentals (supportive government policy but still mixed data point), and especially after the share price rebound, investors want to see more data points and how Macau Studio City opens before increasing their weighting. They are all set to walk the red carpet for the gala opening event, which will include a four-song performance from Mr Packer’s girlfriend Mariah Carey.

It’s going to be the most expensive building ever built per square foot and we want to make it very special,” Packer said. “I think (NSW Premier) Mike Baird is doing a good job, and I caught up with him last week but it wont be open until the end of 2020 at least,” he said. “Nothing is a certainty, but if you build something and you try and make it the best, and you really do try and make it the best, and when it goes over budget you say okay we’ll let it go over budget because we have to, to make it the best, you get nervous,” he said. Talking about data points, for the week ended October 25, Macau gaming average daily revenue came in at 586 million Macau pacata, rebounding strong from the previous week’s 486 million. Studio City, which will have 1640 hotel rooms and the ability to support up to 500 gaming tables and 1500 electronic gaming machines, is targeted at the premium mass market, looking to cash in on the rise of Chinese tourists travelling abroad. The Audition, set at Packer’s resorts in Manila and Macau, was described by director Brett Rattner as a fusion of short film and branding, and was the future of advertising. “Let’s assume that we can run the ads for three years, it’s 11 million bucks a year for what will be I think the most famous marketing campaign in the world.”

Melco Crown, in which Mr Packer’s Crown Resorts has a 34 per cent stake, is confident its new casino, with its theme-park like attractions, can weather the revenue slump in Macau. Studio City brings a new element to the city in terms of non-gaming amenities, but analysts say its opening will not change the industry’s gloomy outlook. “Until the macro situation is resolved, it is unlikely that new property openings no matter from which operator will add significantly to industry revenues,” said Michael Ting, analyst at CIMB Securities in Hong Kong. Melco received permission to operate 250 gaming tables, more than the 150 tables predicted by analysts but less than the 400 tables Melco had requested from the government. And there are not that many.” Mr Packer also revealed Melco Crown has yet to recoup its sunk investments in Macau by instead pouring profits back into new casinos which he said is at odds with the other five concessions operating in Macau. He added that if that figure was correct and the film was used over three years, that would equate to around an annual $11m spend for the company, which he hinted was good value.

Mr Packer confirmed its Barangaroo casino on Sydney’s harbour would not open until late 2020 and said he was concerned it was falling behind in the development schedule. “It is important that we now get started on it,” he said. “Since we announced Sydney we have announced Las Vegas and Melbourne. Macau currently trades at an average of 13 times. “Ff everyone is waiting for below 10x to buy, it may not come,” lament the Credit Suisse analysts, who are bullish on Macau. Since opening in May, Galaxy has grown its market share among the six Macau operators, even though it posted a 29 percent revenue drop for the third quarter. Wynn Macau (1128.Hong Kong), a subsidiary of WYNN Resorts (WYNN). fell 3.8%, Galaxy Entertainment (27.Hong Kong) dropped 3.3%, MGM China (2282.Hong Kong), a unit of MGM Resorts (MGM) fell 2.9% and Sands China (1928.Hong Kong), a unit of Las Vegas Sands (LVS), was down 2.1%. Photo: Bloomberg Lithium provides 450 companies including Telstra, eBay, McDonalds and the Commonwealth Bank with the software they use to chat with customers online through Facebook, Twitter and internet chat rooms.

Now Lithium chief executive Rob Tarkoff says it’s testing a new service called Integrated Profile that can create a hyper-detailed portrait of every single person who opts in, based on their public interactions. The system is built on top of Klout, which has generated 700 million profiles by trawling through 15 billion pieces of information every day across everyone’s social media accounts – whether it’s been knowingly uploaded or not. But the new beta program that Telstra and other global brands have signed up for will let customers add their interactions across the entire Lithium network to their profile. This means everything from your love of GoPro cameras and holiday plans with Virgin America to complaints about Spotify (all of whom are Lithium customers) can be tracked, adding nuance to the picture that companies paint of you: the human. “Knowing what your most valuable customers are interested in, things completely outside of their relationship with you, allows you to reach a new level of intimacy with them,” he said. “You provide them rewards for things that they do for you, provide personalised content that might be relevant to them. It’s just using their profile in a way that builds more of a relationship as opposed to a transaction.” One example could be if Telstra has a relationship with the procurement manager at a certain company, who in turn expresses an interest in ballet.

The telco’s sponsorship of The Australian Ballet means it could use this tailored information to offer tickets to a performance rather than the generic rewards currently on offer. Retail giant Woolworths highlighted the importance of loyalty programs on Monday when it re-launched its member program with an expected cost of $500 million. Big brands across the company are trawling their customer data in an effort to gain fresh insights with ANZ revealing that it combs through customer spending records to work out when they’re travelling and where. But a major question for any company harvesting the vast troves of information available on every person that touches the internet is whether or not the profiles go far beyond the ‘freak line’ of our comfort levels. Big data marketing gained a bad name after US retailer Target used shopping habits and data analytics to predict when customers were pregnant based on the products they put in their baskets – before sending them brochures that included baby products.

This was seen to breach what has been termed the “uncanny valley” of marketing – where people are creeped out once they realise just how much brands know about their every living moment.

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