Minter Ellison advised Las Vegas Sands Inc (LVSI) on the company’s successful bid for the right to build and operate Singapore’s first casino. The government awarded the licence to the US company on 26 May.
LVSI was selected for the Marina Bay licence over three other bidding groups: MGM Mirage and CapitaLand Ltd; Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and Keppel Land Ltd; and Genting International PLC and Star Cruises Ltd.
Minters had a team working with LVSI and its other external lawyers — US firm Paul Weiss and Singapore firm Harry Elias Partners — on the bid for more than 12 months. The resultant project will be a US$5 ($6.7) billion integrated resort.
Hong Kong-based partner Fred Kinmonth, who is head of Minters’ corporate practice in Asia and the relationship partner for LSVI, said the matter went through a number of stages, starting with the Singapore Government’s request for concepts, which was followed by a formal request for proposals (RFP).
The Minter Ellison team, led by partners Carolyn Reynolds and Stewart Nankervis from the firm’s Melbourne office, worked closely with Harry Elias Partners, to bring all the elements of the bid together. Kinmonth said the firm’s role was to run the bid, draft paperwork and keep the matter on track.
“It is a very complex process, putting those bids together — it is very expensive. And the documentation must have been about three feet high.
Kinmonth previously worked with LVSI in 2002 on its successful bid for a concession in Macau, the company’s first Asian venture, after restrictions were lifted in the Special Administrative Region. The firm also worked with LVSI on its extensive casino and resort developments in Macau, including the emerging Cotai Strip, which has already been nicknamed Asia’s Las Vegas.
Previous experience gave the firm knowledge of what set the company apart from the other bidders, Kinmonth said. “Their business model is one which makes them very attractive. It fits very well with what places like Macau and Singapore want from the successful bidder,” he said.
One unique aspect of this bid was that as part of the process, the Singapore Government had to devise the laws and regulations to govern gaming. “The principles were all promulgated and the bidders had the opportunity to comment,” Kinmonth said. “Amongst the bidders, we played a lead role in helping the Singapore Government formulate that legislation.”
“They produced a complete legal structure which suited their particular needs, and it will probably set the benchmark for laws and regulations [for other countries that decide they want to permit gaming].” The legal model used by Singapore was largely based on the Australian model.