(Reuters) - Malaysia's Genting Berhad sits on more cash than any other gaming operator in the world, yet it is raising additional billions on the debt market, fueling speculation that its stake purchase in Australia's Echo Entertainment is just the beginning of an acquisition spree.
Genting, competing with Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts to dominate the Asian casino market, may target assets in Japan, South Korea and Mongolia, analysts said.
Of those markets, Japan may be the most attractive, according to Michael Paladino, a New York-based gaming analyst at Fitch Ratings.
"It could have the potential to be a larger scale (development) because of the size of the economy and the fact that it is a destination in itself, more so than other markets," Paladino said.
With limited growth at home and a lagging share price, Asia's second-largest gaming group by market capitalisation is looking to expand its global footprint.
The company, best known for its Genting Highlands casino complex near Kuala Lumpur and Singapore's Resorts World at Sentosa, has invested in the Philippines and Vietnam after missing out on a concession in Macau more than a decade ago.
Genting Berhad is the investment holding company of the Genting Group, which comprises listed companies such as Genting Singapore, Genting Plantations and Genting Malaysia.
Genting Singapore said on Friday it had acquired a small stake in Echo, sparking talk of a takeover of the $3 billion Australia casino firm