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Sands China, Cirque Du Soleil: To End 10-Year Zaia Contract After Just 3.5 Years

The Macau unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) and Cirque du Soleil Tuesday said they were ending a 10-year contract after just three and a half years, underlining the difficulty some companies have faced trying to transform the Chinese gambling haven into an entertainment destination. The Quebec-based entertainment company will perform its last Zaia show--its first permanent production to open in Asia--on Feb. 19 after several years of disappointing ticket sales, the companies said in a joint statement, Average occupancy at the Zaia show in January was just 40%, according to a representative for the Canadiann company, whose productions have been popular in the West, particularly in the U.S.'s gambling capital Las Vegas. The combined cost of creating the show and the custom-built theater for Zaia exceeded US$150 million, according to an August 2008 press release for the show's premier. "In view of the market trend and customer demand shown in the research we've conducted, the company will again be investing to redesign the theater," said Gus Liem, Vice President of Entertainment at Sands China Ltd. (1928.HK). -By Kate O'Keeffe, Of Dow Jones Newswires; Keeffe@dowjones.com

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