(Updates with analyst comment in the fifth paragraph.)
Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Sands China Ltd., Asia’s biggest casino operator by market value, will pay its first dividend, saying it has enough cash to fund expansion plans in Macau.
The unit of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. said it will pay an interim dividend of 58 Hong Kong cents per share. The payout will occur on or about Feb. 28, Sands China said in a statement to Hong Kong’s stock exchange.
The operator of the Venetian Macao said it “has determined that it has sufficient reserves, after the payment of this interim dividend, to finance its operations and the expansion of its business, including the development of additional integrated resorts.”
Macau’s casino revenue rose 25 percent in December to 23.6 billion patacas ($2.95 billion), as Chinese tourists spent more. Chinese gamblers have fueled growth in the former Portuguese colony, where gambling sales have more than tripled in the past four years.
Sands China will be the third among six Macau casino operators to pay a dividend.
“MGM China is quite likely to pay its first dividend this year too, as the company is in a net cash position,” said Philip Tulk, head of Asian conglomerates and gaming research at Royal Bank of Scotland.
Sands China has jumped 19.6 percent this month in Hong Kong trading, outperforming the 10.6 percent gain in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. The stock was down 2.2 percent to HK$26.25 at the close.
Visitors to Sands China’s locations in Macau, the world’s biggest casino center by revenue, rose by 5 percent to 6 percent to more than 1 million during the Lunar New Year holiday from Jan. 23 to Jan. 29, the company said on Jan. 30.
Wynn Macau Ltd., a unit of Las-Vegas based Wynn Resorts Ltd. in November, said it will pay a special dividend of HK$1.20 a share, following a move by SJM Holdings.
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