Alvin Chau Cheok Wa (pictured), chief executive of privately-held Macau casino junket investor Suncity Group, said in an interview it is “possible” its VIP gaming interests will be injected into Sun Century Group Ltd, a Hong Kong-listed entity he chairs.
His remarks were reported on Thursday by Chinese-language news outlet Apple Daily, in Hong Kong.
“Three years ago, there were some considerations of injecting the VIP gaming business into it [Sun Century Group]. But at that time, the economy had experienced a downturn and hence the plan was put aside,” Mr Chau reportedly told the media outlet.
“But in future, there is indeed such a possibility,” he was quoted saying when asked specifically whether there was a plan to inject the privately-held Suncity Group’s VIP gaming business into Sun Century Group.
The report gave – citing Mr Chau as the source – some insight into just how much money Suncity Group had been turning over in VIP rolling chip volume during the boom year of 2013 and into early 2014. Those “good times” in his words, produced monthly turnover of HKD160 billion (US$20.6 billion) to HKD170 billion, with a peak of HKD193 billion in February 2014.
But subsequently – in a downturn investment analysts have attributed to China’s anti-graft campaign scaring away high rollers – the Macau VIP segment saw business volume nearly “evaporate”, in Mr Chau’s words, before recently making some recovery. Analysts have said that Suncity Group remains one of the largest investors in Macau junket operations.
In a February 6 filing, Sun Century Group – which in earlier filings has described its principal activities as residential and commercial property development and property leasing in mainland China, and until March 2012 had been known as Hong Long Holdings Ltd – said it was seeking to change its name to “Suncity Group Holdings Ltd”.
Junket investor Suncity Group opened its first VIP room in Macau in March 2007, according to a press statement released on February 23 to mark the junket business’s 10th anniversary. The document added that the junket firm now operates 26 VIP rooms, including some outside Macau; namely in the Philippine capital Manila, in Seoul in South Korea, and in Melbourne, Australia.
Suncity Group Management and Consultancy Ltd, a unit of Sun Century Group, has made a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the owner of a so-called integrated resort project in Vietnam, according to a Sun Century filing on Monday. The Vietnam project owner is described as an independent third party.
The arrangement is for “provision of consultancy and management services” to the scheme. The Monday filing however did not identify the project. Suncity Group has previously confirmed it is involved in the development of a casino resort in Vietnam’s Quang Nam province.
Apple Daily also briefly quoted Mr Chau commenting on some non-gaming business that he planned to develop, namely the listing of an entertainment production firm he controls. That business, Sun Entertainment Culture Ltd, was started in 2011, Suncity Group had noted in its anniversary release.
“We thought: why not engage in entertainment production by ourselves? The business is lucrative, and in the long term it can reinforce our own brand,” Mr Chau told the news outlet, referring to Sun Entertainment Culture.
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”Continued negative coverage of the Abe administration, coupled with political losses for the Liberal Democratic Party ... may reduce support for the gaming agenda, which already has only limited public support”
Analyst at brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein