HONG KONG: Shares of Las Vegas Sands' Macau unittumbled in their debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange Monday, butChairman Sheldon Adelson dismissed the drop as a short-term slump.

Adelson, 76, said his US-based firm remains committed to developing Macau's Cotai Strip into a full-service gaming resort venue, despite concerns that the world economy has not recovered from last year's crisis.

"There is no reason to think a little bump in the road is going to last," Adelson told reporters in Hong Kong.

"It's not going to last, it's going to straighten out. We're in it for decades."

Sands shares fell 12 percent to 9.16 Hong Kong dollars (1.18 dollars US) at around 0300 GMT after touching a low of 8.78 Hong Kong dollars. The shares opened Monday at 10.38 Hong Kong dollars.

Sands China raised 2.5 billion dollars in an initial public offering earlier this month -- less than the 3.4 billion dollars that company executives had expected.

The share sale was Hong Kong's second-biggest IPO this year.

Some of the sale proceeds and a 1.75 billion dollar bank loan will be used to restart the company's stalled Macau resort, after the project was put on hold in November when the global economic crisis pounded the Asian gaming enclave.

About 11,000 construction jobs were lost when the project halted, dealing a blow to the former Portuguese colony.

Macau, which was handed back to China in 1999, is the only Chinese city where casino gambling is allowed. It has now overtaken Las Vegas in terms of gaming revenue after opening the gaming sector to foreign competition in 2002.

Las Vegas Sands currently operates the Venetian, Sands and Four Seasons casino hotels in Macau.

The company announced its listing plan after rival Wynn Macau launched an IPO in Hong Kong on October 9, as overseas casino operators seek to capitalise on a rebound in sentiment towards Macau's gaming sector.