Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Ltd wants to position itself as a leading international gaming operator, says group chairman and chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured).
“The member companies within Melco group continue to strengthen our presence in Macau while we simultaneously look to expand into other parts of Asia and Europe, including the Philippines, Russia and Spain, as part of our vision of becoming an international leader in the gaming, leisure and entertainment industry,” Mr Ho said in a statement issued on Thursday. The remarks were included in the report of Melco International’s unaudited results for the half year to June 30.
“Looking ahead, we expect our existing operations to continue to prosper and are optimistic about the projects in our development pipeline,” he added. “We anticipate new opportunities will present themselves as the gaming industry continues to grow worldwide.”
Mr Ho is a son of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun, the founder of SJM Holdings Ltd. After initial support from his father, he decided to establish his own gaming empire, using Melco International as the parent entity.
The group is one of the two controlling shareholders of casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, with a stake of 33.55 percent. The other is Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd.
Melco Crown has casino operations in Macau, where it is expanding its presence via a majority stake in Studio City on Cotai, which is scheduled to open in mid-2015.
Beyond Macau, Melco Crown is developing casino resort City of Dreams Manila, in the Philippine capital. The property, to open later this year, marks Melco Crown’s first step toward internationalisation.
Elsewhere, Melco International is partnering with Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd, also headed by Mr Ho, to invest in the first casino project in Vladivostok, Russia. The project is set to welcome its first guests in the fourth quarter of this year.
One of the group’s subsidiaries, lottery supplier MelcoLot Ltd, signed a memorandum of understanding with Veremonte España SLU earlier this year to take part in the BCN World project, in Barcelona, Spain, as a casino operator. Melco International holds an equity interest of 40.65 percent in MelcoLot.
It is expected that BCN World will include casinos, hotels, convention centres, leisure centres and residential areas. Each casino licensee would have to invest a minimum of EUR300 million (US$403 million) in the project.
Melco International is also involved in gaming machine revenue participation business in Cambodia and the Philippines, via its subsidiary Entertainment Gaming Asia Inc. It has an effective stake of 38.04 percent in the firm.
“The group is also actively eyeing potential opportunities in other countries such as Japan while Entertainment Gaming Asia continues to seek new gaming project opportunities in Indo-China and other Asian regions,” Melco International said in its interim results announcement.
“All in all, Melco International is moving towards a more global and diversified business model,” it added.
The group reported profit of HKD907.6 million (US$117.1 million) for the six months ended June 30, up by 57.3 percent compared with the same period last year. The increase was fuelled by a jump of 60 percent, to HKD1.06 billion, in share of profits of associate companies.
An interim dividend of HKD0.116 per share was declared for the first half of 2014. The dividend, in an aggregate amount of HK$181.2 million, represents around one fifth of the company’s profit for the period.
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Wong Sio Chak
Macau’s Secretary for Security