Hong Kong-listed casino services firm Macau Legend Development Ltd will soon disclose its proposal for a so-called integrated resort – typically a euphemism for a venue containing a mix of casino space and non-gaming facilities – in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
So said on Wednesday the firm’s co-chairman and chief executive David Chow Kam Fai (pictured in a file photo). He also pledged to “speed up” development of a Laos casino resort project next door to Savan Legend Resorts Hotel and Entertainment Complex, the firm’s current operation in that country.
Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting, Mr Chow said Macau Legend was purchasing land to develop what he termed an “integrated resort” project in Cambodia. He did not specifically refer to a casino. He added it was an “ongoing process” involving the help of an “international law firm”.
“The purchase [of land] is almost completed. Regarding important issues such as project size and other related questions, I believe we will be able to disclose those thing in two to three months’ time,” Mr Chow remarked, referring to the Siem Reap scheme. He did not give further details of its facilities.
Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination close to the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
“Within this year, we’ll be clear on the land deal and the development direction,” the Macau Legend executive added.
Some promotional materials – described only as illustrative – on display at a corporate showroom at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf referred to the name “Hidden Legend” in relation to the Siem Reap resort, and featured an artist’s impression of a golden-coloured building of up to seven storeys, with two wings to the resort radiating from a central structure, with the latter crowned by six turrets with small cupolas, surrounding one large dome.
In Laos, the firm plans to develop a “bungalow-type” resort on the site next to Savan Legend Resorts, Mr Chow said. The latter property was formerly known as Savan Vegas and is located in Savannakhet, near that country’s border with Thailand. Mention of the additional scheme was made in company filings and press releases in 2016. The land parcel was said to be part of Savannakhet’s Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone.
“We are prepared to speed up to develop the adjacent plot [to Savan Legend Resorts] into an integrated resort project… We are developing a bungalow-type resort. This should not involve much complication in terms of construction,” Mr Chow said.
In late April Macau Legend told GGRAsia it was aiming to invest at least US$300 million and up to US$500 million across “several projects” in Laos.
On Wednesday Mr Chow stated that his firm was in talks with the Laos government for permission to channel part of the flat rate tax Macau Legend pays on its gaming operations in that country, into local infrastructure projects in Savannakhet, in particular for the airport. According to the firm’s announcements, the local unit of Macau Legend running Savan Legend Resorts is paying the Laos government a flat tax of US$10 million per annum. The payment covers a period from September 1, 2016 to August 31, 2019.
“We have requested the Laos government to lower the gaming tax [sic], and by doing so …we can help them to expand the airport runway [in Savannakhet]. This is good for both parties,” Mr Chow said, noting that better infrastructure at Savannakhet airport could help bring in more tourists from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries.
The firm is also looking at the possibility of somehow arranging a direct flight between Macau and Savannakhet. In Cambodia, casino operator NagaCorp Ltd organised the leasing of aircraft in order to shuttle Chinese customers between mainland China’s Guangdong province and its NagaWorld resort in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh.
At Wednesday’s annual meeting, the Macau Legend board declared a special dividend of HKD0.08 (US$0.010) per share, amounting to HKD501.4 million in total.
Following the annual meeting, Mr Chow took some questions from the media. He said the recent completion of the disposal of 100 percent of the equity in the Landmark Macau casino hotel had allowed the firm to “focus all of its energy on the development of Macau Fisherman’s Wharf”. That was a reference to a waterfront property on Macau peninsula where Macau Legend has already built two new hotels and plans a third hotel, that will possibly have gaming.
The Landmark Macau disposal is expected to bring the firm a gain before tax of approximately HKD3.3 billion, according to company announcements.
“There is no problem with any financing to support that [redevelopment of Macau Fisherman’s Wharf],” Mr Chow said. As part of the redevelopment plan of the waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf, the firm is to build Legendale Hotel.
“Now the issue is we are still awaiting goverment response on whether we can go ahead with 60 metres [197 feet] or 90 metres,” said Mr Chow, referring to the permitted height for the Legendale Hotel. Either way, “we can develop the project and we will respect government’s decision,” Mr Chow stated.
Kelvin Wong, Macau Legend’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, later told GGRAsia it was not yet confirmed whether the company would ask the Macau government for a casino at Legendale.
The firm says it is however considering developing a new centre for meetings and exhibitions, and a yacht club at Fisherman’s Wharf.
(Updated 7.10pm, June 1)
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