elco is a joint venture between Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gaming mogul Stanley Ho, and Australian entertainment tycoon James Packer.
The deal ends a stand-off between the previous owners, eSun Holdings and New Cotai Holdings, who failed to finance their us$ 2.4 billion development plans for the resort and ended up suing each other in nearby Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported.
The project was previously 60 percent owned by a tie-up of Hong Kong-listed eSun and Singapore-listed property developer CapitaLand, with 40 percent held by New Cotai, an arm of US investment firms Oaktree Capital Management and Silver Point Capital.
Melco Crown said in a statement on Thursday that it will pay us$ 260 million for the eSun-led joint venture's 60 percent stake, while New Cotai will retain its 40 percent stake, though Melco will pay it us$ 100 million in cash over two years.
Melco Crown will spend us$ 1.7 billion developing the 2,000-room resort, with construction starting as early as next year to meet a 2015 completion date, group chief executive Lawrence Ho said. He said the deal "provides a unique opportunity for Melco Crown to meaningfully increase its footprint in Macau".
"We remain bullish on Macau's prospects and believe high quality new supply, such as Macau Studio City, will continue to drive incremental demand and broaden the appeal of the market," he added in a statement.
Gambling revenue in Macau, the world's biggest gaming hub and the only place in China where casinos are legal, surged 42 percent year on year in May to us$ 3 billion- a record high for the fourth month in a row. The former Portuguese colony drew us$ 23.5 billion in gaming revenue last year, outpacing the Las Vegas Strip four-fold.