Casino investor Genting Singapore Ltd says it has won overwhelming approval from its shareholders to pledge up to US$10 billion in investment in pursuit of a casino resort project in Japan. More than 99 percent of the shareholders voted in favour of the investment plan at the extraordinary general meeting on Tuesday, Genting Singapore said in a filing that day after market hours.
The casino developer said a fortnight ago that it would seek approval from its shareholders to submit eventually “one or more bids for the development, operation, management and/or ownership” of a casino resort in Japan. Genting Singapore said at the time it would seek shareholder approval “to submit a proposed bid with respect to any one prefecture or city with an investment amount not exceeding US$10 billion”.
Genting Singapore already runs the Resorts World Sentosa gaming complex as part of Singapore’s casino duopoly. The company has shown interest in several places in Japan – either prefectures or cities – that are considering hosting a casino resort. To date, according to recent filings, Genting Singapore has participated in the request for concept processes organised respectively by the local governments of Osaka and Yokohama.
A maximum of three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan under a first phase of market liberalisation. Genting Singapore said it might submit more than one bid for a casino resort in Japan, but noted that – however it fared in selection processes with local governments that are required to find a private-sector partner – the group would only seek to develop and operate one such scheme in that country. The focus would be “on major prefectures and cities,” added the company.
Japan’s national government had been expected to announce in late January the final version of its “basic policy” on the integrated resort (IR) topic, as large-scale, multi-use tourism complexes with casinos are known in Japan. It said late last month that it would now make that policy public only in February or March.
The slight delay was due to “small adjustments” in the policy, in consultation with the recently-activated casino management commission, reported local media. The news came on the heels of an emerging casino bribery scandal in Japan that includes allegations against Tsukasa Akimoto, a former ruling-party member and lawmaker.
Genting Singapore has said that if it were to win a licence in Japan, funding for such a project would come from internal cash resources; bank borrowings; and the issuance of debt. The company said also that it might undertake the Japan IR project together with other investors or partners, as part of a consortium.
The casino operator has additionally stated that it would “endeavour to maintain consistency” in dividend payouts to its shareholders. The group paid SGD0.035 (US$0.026) per share for each of the past two financial years.
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"The casinos have to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The decision [to suspend casino operations] is up to the government. As of now, we don’t have any plan to change the existing regulations"
Lei Wai Nong
Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance