* LVS, Genting Singapore to invest S$9 bln
* Genting shares drop over 8 pct to 3-month low (Adds details, analyst comment updates share movement)
SINGAPORE, April 4 (Reuters) - Genting Singapore Ltd’s shares plunged to a three-month low on Thursday, after the casino operator unveiled a S$4.5 billion ($3.3 billion) expansion plan and the government said it would hike casino entry prices and taxes.
Genting and Las Vegas Sands Corp have committed to spend about S$9 billion on expanding their Singapore resorts, the city-state’s government said on Wednesday, adding that it would increase the casino entry levies for citizens and permanent residents from April 4.
The government, which agreed to extend the exclusivity period for the two casinos to end-2030, will raise tax rates on gross gaming revenue from February 2022 through a tiered structure.
“Higher investment cost, levies to be introduced on 4 Apr and gaming taxes from CY22F onwards are near-term downers,” CGS-CIMB analyst Cezzane See said in a note.
While Genting’s investment plan has long-term benefits, it would “likely reset its (the firm’s) earnings growth and cash pile,” See said.
The expansions include the construction of a fourth tower at the Marina Bay Sands hotel owned by Las Vegas Sands, while Genting will add a Minion Park and Super Nintendo World among its new attractions at its resort on the island of Sentosa.
Singapore received a record 18.5 million visitors last year, but growth in their spending slowed as they cut back on shopping.
Nomura analysts said Genting’s capital expenditure was higher than their expectations and meant minimal free cash flow for the next four-five years, which could cap near-term dividends.
Shares of Genting Singapore, whose biggest shareholder is Malaysia’s Genting Bhd, fell as much as 8.4 percent to S$0.98 on Thursday, their lowest since early January.
($1 = 1.3529 Singapore dollars)
Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Subhranshu Sahu
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