Australia's PBL Buys Stake in Las Vegas Resort

Australia's Publishing & Broadcasting agreed to buy a US$250 million stake in Las Vegas casino developer Fontainebleau Resorts on Tuesday, its first entry into the U.S. gaming market.

PBL, which is expanding its gaming empire into North America, said it would buy a 19.6% stake in Fontainebleau which is developing a new casino and resort in Las Vegas and owns a casino in Miami Beach.

"This transaction provides PBL Gaming with first class entrance into the U.S. casino resort market, in particular, the renowned Las Vegas Strip," PBL Executive Chairman James Packer said in a statement.

Packer, Australia's richest man and controlling shareholder in PBL, had previously signaled PBL would make international gaming acquisitions as it diversifies away from its traditional media business.

PBL has A$3 billion (US$2.5 billion) to spend after selling half its media assets into a joint venture with CVC Asia Pacific last year.

Fontainebleau's Las Vegas casino and resort is expected to open in late 2009. It is also renovating its existing resort in Miami Beach which reopens next year.

PBL teamed up with Australia's Macquarie Bank earlier this month to buy nine Canadian casinos for C$1.37 billion (US$1.2 billion).

It also owns a joint venture with Hong Kong firm Melco International Development, which plans to build three casinos in Macau.

The Fontainebleau deal is expected to close in May this year.