A Macau junket-linked major investor in the Hoiana casino project (pictured in an artist’s rendering) in Vietnam says it does not expect the current coronavirus health alert to affect what it termed the “pre-soft opening” of the scheme.
Suncity Group said in a December 31 press release that it expected the first phase of Hoiana, in Quang Nam province on Vietnam’s central coast, to be completed and open within the first quarter this year. Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd is due to manage gaming at the venue, according to a May 2019 filing. The latter company is controlled by Suncity Group junket boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa.
On Tuesday, in response to GGRAsia’s enquiry about the timetable for the scheme in the light of the coronavirus alert, a Suncity spokesperson said: “Our market positioning in Hoiana is quite different compared to Macau.”
The person added: “We believe it [the coronavirus alert] will not affect our pre-soft opening provided we obtain the [local] licence on time.”
The spokesperson said additionally that “part of the hotel rooms and casino operation will be ready” by the “pre-soft opening” stage of the Hoiana scheme.
Given the Suncity brand’s strength in serving Chinese VIP gamblers, some industry observers had expected that Hoiana would also have a strong appeal to Chinese customers. The resort will not currently be able to cater for local gamblers as envisaged for some casino schemes under a trial project by the Vietnam government.
A December note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd – on the pre-coronavirus outlook for the Macau market in 2020 – had said the institution did not anticipate Suncity Group-branded Chinese VIP business would “migrate” from Macau to Vietnam, upon the opening of Hoiana.
On Saturday, Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority had banned until further notice passenger flights from China, in a move that appeared to be an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Initially the ban included services from Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan, although by the following day, the ban on flights from the latter three places was lifted.
It was reported on Tuesday that Vietnam had placed nearly 1,000 Vietnamese nationals returning from China into quarantine supervised by the Vietnam military.
As of Wednesday, Vietnam had confirmed a total of 10 cases of coronavirus, according to local media. As of Wednesday morning, worldwide more than 24,500 cases and 492 deaths had been reported.
Suncity Group Holdings’ interim report, published in September, had mentioned Hoiana would have seven phases – to be developed over a span of 13 years – on a site of approximately 985.5 hectares (2,435 acres).
That filing said phase one would include more than 1,000 hotel rooms, a casino with 140 gaming tables and over 300 slot machines, as well as a golf course.
A Suncity Group Holdings unit, Star Admiral Ltd, has an approximately 34 percent equity interest in the resort development, reiterated that filing. It was announced in early January some money had been disbursed regarding the commitment.
Hoiana has been described in press releases related to the project as a US$4-billion, multi-phase development.
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”We have maintained stringent cost controls, conservative financial policies, and have the resources to weather a lengthy adverse situation if necessary”
Executive director of Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent, promoter of the Tigre de Cristal casino resort in Russia