Macau gambling junket boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa says he will “soon” oversee a ground-breaking ceremony for the group’s casino project in the Philippine capital Manila.
Mr Chau (pictured) controls Suncity Group Holdings Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed firm that has an equity interest in a Philippine firm involved in the development of the scheme, part of the Westside City Project at Metro Manila’s Entertainment City casino zone.
The entrepreneur said in remarks in Suncity Group Holdings’ 2019 annual report filed on Thursday, that he was “thrilled to be conducting the ground-breaking ceremony of Westside City Project at Entertainment City in Manila soon, marking a new chapter for Suncity’s presence in Asia”.
Mr Chau also noted in the annual report that this year the group would be “completing the upgrade works of Tigre de Cristal Phase 1 in Vladivostok, Russia”. That was a reference to a casino resort in the Russian Far East, in which Suncity Group Holdings has a leading interest.
The entrepreneur reiterated in the annual report that this summer there would be a “preview” of the Hoiana casino resort in Vietnam in which the group also has an interest and which it will operate. In March the firm said the opening of that property had been put back to 2021. In May Suncity Group Holdings said a company where it is an investor had received a decades-long casino business licence for Hoiana.
The timing for the Westside City Project ground-breaking ceremony in Manila was not mentioned in the annual report.
Manila’s existing casino resorts have been shuttered since mid-March as part of measures locally to contain the Covid-19 infection.
The step began as what is known locally as enhanced community quarantine, and was then tweaked in mid-May to a “modified enhanced community quarantine”. That has now shifted to a general community quarantine, leading to speculation the existing Entertainment City casinos might soon reopen, albeit with reduced gaming capacity for safety reasons.
Andrea Domingo, chairman and chief executive of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, the country’s casino regulator, expressed in a speech broadcast on Monday for the ICE Asia digital conference for the casino sector, “hope” that Philippine casinos shuttered during the Covid-19 emergency might start to open in June on a “graduated basis”.
A fortnight ago Suncity Group Holdings said it was to increase to 74.42 percent from 51.0 percent its equity interest in a Philippine-listed firm involved in the Westside City Project. The Hong Kong-listed entity is doing so via a subscription of PHP7.3-billion (US$145.1-million) worth of convertible bonds to be issued by the Philippine entity, Suntrust Home Developers Inc.
With regards to Tigre de Cristal in Russia, Suncity Group Holdings said in a filing two weeks ago that it had agreed to pay – via one of its units – about HKD1.24 billion (US$160.0 million) for some underwritten shares of Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd, the promoter of Tigre de Cristal. Summit Ascent said in its own filing on the matter, that part of the proceeds would be used to subscribe to convertible bonds in Philippine firm Suntrust Home Developers.
In July last year, Summit Ascent said it was offering placing shares to raise HKD297 million to expand Tigre de Cristal.
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Inward direct investment – from outside investors – into Macau’s gaming sector in 2019