* Galaxy, SBM to collaborate on Asia-Pacific casino projects
* SBM's Monaco state backers keen on Japan -Galaxy president
* No demand for majority stake in any consortium -Galaxy
TOKYO, March 29 (Reuters) - Macau casino operator Galaxy
Entertainment Group Ltd on Wednesday said it has
partnered Societe des Bains de Mer (SBM), hoping the
Monaco peer will help it trump rivals to win a license in
Japan's nascent gambling market.
Galaxy and SBM will jointly develop and run entertainment
businesses including casinos and hotels in Japan and the
Asia-Pacific region, the companies said in a statement.
"We intend to capitalise on the Monte-Carlo brand,"
President Michael Mecca told Reuters in an interview. "All of
the entities of Monaco and the principality ... are very
enthusiastic about joining us and doing business in Japan."
SBM is majority-owned by the Mediterranean principality, and
since 2015, 5 percent owned by Galaxy. The Monaco firm said it
hopes the partnership will help it grow in Asia.
Still, Galaxy faces strong competition to win rights to run
a resort in Japan, which legalised casinos late last year.
A host of international operators including U.S.-based Las
Vegas Sands Corp and MGM Resorts International
also aim to enter the market.
The government is drafting a law, due by December, on how to
regulate the industry, and people familiar with the matter have
told Reuters that Japan will likely pick locations and operators
in 2019 and open casino resorts by 2023.
Before the selection process begins, resort operators
including MGM and Hard Rock Cafe International Inc have been
forming consortia with prospective hosts and domestic companies.
Galaxy is also wooing national and local governments, as
well as real estate, construction and transportation firms, but
will not insist on a stake of over 50 percent in any consortium,
"We are not coming with a preconceived notion or demand to
be a majority shareholder," he said.
Other operators have taken such positions, with Hard Rock
saying it would seek a stake of 40 percent to 60 percent in any
Galaxy declined to detail the size of any investment in
Japan, but said its net cash of $2.1 billion would allow it to
begin a project without waiting for financing.
Sands and MGM have said a casino resort would need an
investment of up to $10 billion.
Just two casinos in major Japanese cities could generate
over $10 billion in annual gaming revenue, rising to $25 billion
if 10 further casinos outside metropolitan areas are approved,
brokerage CLSA has said.
(Reporting by Thomas Wilson and Emi Emoto; Editing by