Hong Kong-listed casino developer Landing International Development Ltd saw its shares plunge in value on Friday, the second major slump that week, amid a mystery regarding the whereabouts of its chairman, mainland Chinese businessman Yang Zhihui.
GGRAsia had approached the firm, seeking an update on the whereabouts of is boss, who controls a majority of its shares. Landing International said it was unable to give one. On Thursday industry sources had told GGRAsia he was reportedly last seen in Cambodia earlier this week.
An image circulating online during the day on Thursday showing a person resembling Mr Yang airside on an airport’s tarmac, being escorted in handcuffs by two men. In the background of the image could be seen an aircraft in the livery of Lanmei Airlines Co Ltd, a Chinese-owned low-cost airline registered in Cambodia. A spokesperson for Landing International told us on Friday that it could not verify the authenticity of the photograph.
Speculation concerning Mr Yang had intensified from Thursday evening onwards, when the group told the Hong Kong Stock Exchange it had been unable that day to contact him.
That morning the stock had been suspended before lunchtime, after losing 35 percent of its value in only 90 minutes of full morning trading. The shares were back in play on Friday morning but the slump continued.
By market close on Friday, Landing International – which currently operates a casino resort complex in the South Korean island of Jeju – saw its shares at HKD3.17 (US$0.40), down nearly 16 percent on the day. The market capitalisation of the firm stood at HKD9.30 billion by Friday.
The stock is down 42 percent from the HKD5.46 per share recorded a week ago. It has plunged 83 percent from its 2018 high point of HKD18.50 per share in January.
A Friday report by mainland Chinese financial media outlet Caixin asserted Mr Yang had become “the latest target” of mainland authorities looking into people with possible business ties to state-owned China Huarong Asset Management Co Ltd. The latter’s former chairman Lai Xiaomin is under investigation for alleged corruption.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China