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Macau Tops Las Vegas Strip in Terms of Gambling Revenue

Macau's gambling revenue in 2006 surpassed that of the Las Vegas strip and South Korea's economy accelerated last year, fueled by strong exports. Claudia Blume in Hong Kong has more on these and other stories in our weekly look at business news from around Asia.

Macau's gambling revenue surged to almost seven billion dollars in 2006, an increase of 22 percent compared with a year earlier. This means the tiny Chinese territory close to Hong Kong has dethroned the Las Vegas strip in the United States as the world's largest gaming market in terms of revenue. The casinos on the Vegas strip had revenue of about $6.6 billion last year.

David Green is director of the gaming practice for the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers in Macau. He says last year's growth was mainly driven by the addition of two new large casinos and an increase in visitor numbers. Green says overall growth will continue this year, as more new casinos will be opened. But he expects revenue per gaming table to go down.

"What will happen with the addition of extra capacity is that the return per machine or per table are going to start to decline. Now overall, the market will still be showing growth but in terms of the marginal return to operators - they'll decline," Green says.

South Korea's economy grew five percent in 2006 compared with a year earlier. The expansion in Asia's third-largest economy was boosted by a growth in exports, capital investment and domestic consumer spending. The economy expanded four percent in 2005.

Exports went up 13 percent last year, driven by healthy global demand for South Korean products such as flat-panel televisions and cars. However, there were signs of slowing growth in the fourth quarter of the year, because of weaker exports and more modest gains in the manufacturing and construction sectors.

For the country's largest consumer appliance maker, LG Electronics, however, robust sales did not translate into strong profit. Net profit in the quarter ending December was 51 million dollars, a plunge of 85 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Mounting competition led LG Electronics to cut prices for mobile phones and flat-screen televisions, making its profit tumble.

China's largest mobile phone company China Mobile has bought a majority stake in a Pakistani telecommunications company from the global investor Millicom International Cellular. The deal for Paktel, Pakistan's fifth largest mobile operator, is valued at $460 million. It is the Chinese company's first overseas acquisition.