The management of casino operator Genting Singapore Ltd says it is “in the process of exploring partners” in pursuit of a casino resort project in Japan. The company reportedly stated it hopes to “secure a consortium by September/October timeframe,” according to remarks in an investor call, as quoted in a Wednesday note from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd.
The casino investor said earlier this month it had won overwhelming approval from its shareholders to pledge up to US$10 billion in investment in a casino resort “with respect to any one prefecture or city” in Japan.
To date, according to recent filings, Genting Singapore has participated in the request for concept (RFC) processes organised respectively by the local governments of Osaka and Yokohama. According to Sanford Bernstein’s memo, the casino firm’s management “expects bidding results [regarding such RFC processes] by end of the year”.
Genting Singapore has said that if it were to win a licence in Japan, funding for such a project would come from internal cash resources; bank borrowings; and the issuance of debt.
The company said also that it might undertake the Japan integrated resort (IR) project – as large-scale, multi-use tourism complexes with casinos are known in Japan – together with other investors or partners, as part of a consortium. “If and to the extent the company undertakes the Japan IR project as part of a consortium, the company will only contribute its proportion of the total investment amount reflecting the ownership and funding structure of the consortium,” it added.
A maximum of three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan under a first phase of market liberalisation. Genting Singapore said it might submit more than one bid for a casino resort in Japan, but noted that – however it fared in selection processes with local governments that are required to find a private-sector partner – the group would only seek to develop and operate one such scheme in that country. The focus would be “on major prefectures and cities,” added the company.
Japan’s national government had been expected to announce in late January the final version of its “basic policy” on the IR topic. It said late last month that it would now make that policy public only in February or March.
Genting Singapore, the operator of the Resorts World Sentosa casino resort in Singapore, reported on Wednesday profit of SGD688.6 million (US$496.2 million) for full-year 2019, down 8.8 percent from the previous year. Revenue for 2019 was SGD2.48 billion, compared with just under SGD2.54 billion in 2018.
Fourth-quarter profit was up 3.8 percent year-on-year, at just under SGD155.9 million, on quarterly revenue actually down 9.5 percent, at nearly SGD607.2 million.
JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd said in a Thursday note that Genting Singapore reported “an unexciting fourth quarter … despite (very) easy comparisons, and details were also disappointing with continued share losses.” The brokerage added that the near-term outlook for the casino firm “remains murky as ever, too, with an obvious (though short-lived and transient) drag from novel coronavirus issues”.
Genting Singapore had flagged on Wednesday a “pessimistic” outlook for the first half of 2020 due to the “novel coronavirus issue that has created massive disruption to the travel and tourism industries”. It was reported this week that a worker at Resorts World Sentosa had tested positive for coronavirus infection.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters