(VOV) - US tycoon Sheldon Adelson said that his Las Vegas Sands is willing to build luxurious integrated resorts (IR) in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City at a combined investment capital of US$5-6 billion.
Sheldon Adelson granted an exclusive interview to Vietnam Investment Review (VIR), shedding light on his group’s investment plan.
Reporter: You met several Vietnamese government officials during your visit to Vietnam in December last year. What are the outcomes of the meetings?
Sheldon Adelson: It was for my company to make investments in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to develop integrated resorts. That’s our speciality. We are the only developer in the world that is developing IR which is our convention base.
That means our fundamental business model is designed to support exhibitions and conventions. We were the only privately own exhibition centre in the world in 1990s to build strong Sands convention and exhibition in Las Vegas.
That’s scenery between what Vietnam wants to have and what we can provide. It would like to boost tourism. We are specialised in tourism and bringing in tourism. Vietnam has no IR so far and that is fundamental component of our company. So it’s an extremely comfortable fit that we can cooperate in this.
We believe the Vietnamese government is very interested in our model and we think it also wants to have our IR in Vietnam.
Reporter: Why do you want to build one IR in Hanoi?
Sheldon Adelson: I had never been to Vietnam before, so our preliminary project only designed one IR in Ho Chi Minh City. But when I arrived in Hanoi and talked to many people in the hospitality industry and tourism and I now think Hanoi has the same potential as Ho Chi Minh City. Hanoi also does not have any IR, so we know we can do that for Vietnam. That would be also the first time we develop two projects in one country at the same time.
Reporter: Could you reveal the investment figures?
Sheldon Adelson: One of the problems now we have is inflation. We are also not familiar with working in a country with inflation up to 14 percent annually, so it is not easy to give estimation. But I can give you a very rough number. Each building could be at least US$2 billion and both buildings could be up to US$5-6 billion.
However, I am not limiting each property in Hanoi and in Ho Chi Minh City to US$2 billion. We will pay whatever it takes to build IR. If each building needs US$2 billion, we will spend it. If it needs US$3 billion, it’s okay. And we are also ready if that goes up to US$4 billion. The Venetian Macau cost us US$2.5 billion. The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore cost US$6 billion.
I have been in the business for the last 66 years and I know Vietnam is a good destination from my feeling.
Reporter: I heard that you have already had the architecture design for the project in Ho Chi Minh City?
Sheldon Adelson: Yes. The architecture design shows the sails in a boat. In Chinese we call it a junk. And in English that’s sail. It has several major beams across, maybe five beams. We design two buildings to look like two sails in one ship. The idea is to build a building that goes with the identification of the city. The water and the river are so much a part of Ho Chi Minh City.
That is not the case in Hanoi. We have not come up with a design yet for the Hanoi-based investment. But we have an architect working on different concept right now.
Reporter: How long do you think it will take to finish construction of an IR?
Sheldon Adelson: We usually build a hotel and start up with about 1,600 or 1,800 rooms. But if we decide to build a smaller hotel with 600-800 rooms, we might be able to build it within two years from the time we break the ground.
The fact is that we can do within six months to one year to plan the development and two years to build it. So the hotel could be open up within 3.5 years. Generally, it will depend on how fast the government will move.
Reporter: Casinos play an important role in your IR developments, while gambling is not legalised in Vietnam. What will you do?
Sheldon Adelson: IR always has one different element that is a gaming centre. And that would be a necessary element to support other non-profitable sectors. In the US, about 32 or 33 among 50 states have legalised gambling. And each state which is against gambling sees their money flow to other states where it is legalised.
In Singapore which is known as the one of the least corrupt countries in the world did not want to have gaming, but it decided to have one in order to attract to the other elements of IR.