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Crown Ltd. Antes Up for Cannery; Lukoil Improves Net Income; China Pacific Prepares Public Offering; Microsoft Keys in on Multimap
- Crown Ltd., the largest operator of casinos in Australia, has agreed to buy a U.S.-based privately held casino group, Cannery Casino Resorts LLC for $1.75 billion, the (Wednesday). Cannery currently owns three casinos in the United States: The Cannery Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas, the Nevada Palace casino in East Las Vegas and the Rampart Casino in Summerlin, Nevada. It also has gaming facilities at the Meadows Race Track in Pittsburgh. Another Vegas resort, the Eastside Cannery, should be completed in September of 2008. The deal will not be made official until Crown receives the required permits and approvals from Nevada and Pennsylvania gaming commissions, a process that is expected to take 12 months. With competition picking up in the Australian market, Crown has been expanding globally. In addition to its new U.S. venture, Crown is opening or purchasing gaming projects in Macau and Canada. "CCR's current shareholders have created first class local properties located in markets with attractive long term growth prospects. Crowns skills and experience in operating successful locals casinos will enable us to grow the CCR business further,” Crown Chairman James Packer said in a statement.
- OAO Lukoil (LUKOY), Russia's largest publicly owned oil company, reported yesterday (Wednesday) that its third quarter net income rose 2.1% on a year-over-year basis. Net profit for the quarter was $2.48 billion, compared with $2.43 billion for the third quarter of 2006. Revenues rose at an even faster rate of 17% to $21.42 billion. The rise in oil prices proved to be enough to compensate for a 1.1% drop in the company's crude output. Lukoil reported that it produced an average 1.94 million barrels of oil a day, down from last year's third-quarter average of 1.96 million barrels daily. Average selling prices rose 10% to $72.40 in the quarter. Refined products output increased 17.6% to reach 12.66 metric tons. Selling, general and administrative expenses rose 24% and taxes were up 18% in the quarter, further depressing margins and keeping the net profit increase relatively modest.
- China Pacific Insurance Co.'s initial public offering on the Shanghai Stock Exchange is expected to raise as much as $4.07 billion. The company announced yesterday (Wednesday) that it would issue up to 1 billion 'Class A' shares priced between $3.66 (27 yuan) to $4.07 (30 yuan), Reuters reported. The IPO is scheduled for Dec. 25, and another 900 million 'Class H' shares will be listed on Hong Kong's exchange shortly thereafter, the company said. China Pacific is the third life insurance company after China Life Insurance Company Ltd. (LFC) and Ping An Insurance Group (PNGAY) to launch IPOs on Shanghai's index this year. China International Capital Group and UBS Securities Co. are underwriting the offering.
- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has announced the purchase of Internet mapping company Multimap for an undisclosed sum. Multimap is one of the most used websites in the United Kingdom, offering street level maps and directions throughout the U.K., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. Microsoft made no effort to deny that the purchase is an attempt to compete with Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Google Maps and ultra-specific Google Earth, which can provide satellite imagery of almost any location. "This mapping technology will help us build better services and compete in the search space where we want to compete more and more and make progress on the dominant position Google has,” John Mangelaars, Microsoft's European vice president for Online Services Business, told the Wall Street Journal. The mapping software search program may also be used in conjunction with the aQuantive advertising platform Microsoft recently acquired. This will allow the company to sell advertising for hotels and restaurants through the mapping program. The service will be available online as well as via cell phone.