Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd is looking for opportunities to acquire casinos in “South Korea, the Philippines, Russia and Myanmar,” said Andrew Lo Kai Bong (pictured), the firm’s executive director, in comments to GGRAsia.
His remarks followed the group’s annual general meeting in Hong Kong on Monday. The Hong Kong-listed entity – which does not currently contain the assets of the brand’s core Macau casino junket business – is already committed to managing a casino resort at Van Don in Vietnam on behalf of third-party investors, and would like to invest in helping to build a Vietnam resort at Hoi An from the ground up and then run it.
Suncity Group Holdings would seek to become a “pure gaming firm” by the year of 2020, said Mr Lo in his remarks earlier on Monday to Hong Kong journalists. The Suncity brand as a whole has been in recent years keen to emphasise the diversified nature of its business interests, including mainland property, and food and beverage businesses in Macau.
Mr Lo told us, regarding the junket business assets: “We’ll be studying how to inject the junket business into the company [Suncity Group Holdings].” Macau junket investor Suncity Group is described by many investment analysts as the predominant junket brand in the city when measured by estimated VIP rolling chip volume and contribution to VIP gross gaming revenue.
“The firm [Suncity Group Holdings] still has some property projects in mainland China. It will take some time to sell them off,” Mr Lo told GGRAsia when asked about the transition into a “pure gaming” services firm.
According to the group’s 2017 annual report, its portfolio includes a now-completed property project in Shenzhen, in the mainland’s Guangdong province, next door to Hong Kong – branded as “Le Paysage” – which has been delivered to buyers in phases since 2014. The firm is also developing a residential project called “The Landale” in China’s Anhui province and is planning another property project in Liaoning province.
Currently, the Hong Kong-listed firm’s business portfolio includes property sales and leasing as well as travel services.
Suncity Group Holdings announced on May 31 that it had postponed the completion of its purchase of a 34-percent share in the Hoi An, project which has been dubbed “Hoiana”. The HKD600-million (US$76.8-million) deal – originally to be finalised on that date – now has a new deadline, July 31.
Mr Lo expressed to GGRAsia confidence in meeting the new deadline.
“We’ve seen a few compulsory procedures to be completed regarding the site [phase one of Hoiana]. It is a vast piece of land of 163 hectares [403 acres], which takes time for the process of obtaining the land certificates for it. But now this process is soon to be over,” Mr Lo explained to us when asked about the delays to the deal.
According to previous Suncity Group Holdings filings, one of the conditions for completion of the stake purchase is that the project owner Hoi An South Development Ltd obtain title to a portion of land amounting to “not less than 163 hectares” for phase one.
The casino resort scheme Hoiana is a venture by Hoi An South Development Ltd, which also involves the Vietnamese asset manager VinaCapital Group and a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd.
The first of the project’s seven phases is “due to open in 2019”, according to a press statement from Hoi An South Development issued in late April. The first stage of the Hoiana project comprises three hotels, a casino, food and beverage outlets and a golf course.
The Suncity brand has also been linked in an analyst note issued in February, with a possible play for a Macau casino licence in its own right after the current six expire on various dates in either 2020 or 2022.
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"The Hong Kong protests may hurt Macau gross gaming revenue by about mid-single-digit (i.e., half of maximum visitation exposure), which should fade away gradually as people will find alternative ways to visit Macau”
DS Kim, Jeremy An and Christine Wang
Analysts at brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd