Asian casino investor Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured) has stepped down as chairman and non-executive director of Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd, the lead developer of the Tigre de Cristal casino resort in the Russian Far East.
The move follows Mr Ho’s decision to sell off his 17.4-percent stake in the firm, announced on December 18.
Summit Ascent has already appointed Kuo Jen Hao as its new chairman, the firm said in a filing on Thursday to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Mr Kuo is the chairman and general manager of Taiwan-listed shipping operator First Steamship Co Ltd. The firm announced on December 18 that it was acquiring a stake of 12.67 percent in Summit Ascent.
“Mr Kuo has several years of experience in investment advisory, financial advisory and corporate finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Private Equity Management Group, and held various key roles at several private and listed companies,” Summit Ascent said in its filing. “Mr Kuo has a wealth of experience in business strategy development and innovation management,” the document added.
Summit Ascent posted a loss of HKD5.4 million (US$690,000) for the first half of 2017, compared to a profit of approximately HKD5.5 million a year earlier. A possible increase to the tax burden on casinos based in Russia could reduce Summit Ascent’s 2018 earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation by as much as 6 percent, brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd said in a note in late November.
Phase one of Tigre de Cristal opened in autumn 2015. The resort is currently the only casino property in operation in the Primorye region of Russia.
Summit Ascent said in August that it expected to open the first stage of Phase II of its Tigre de Cristal property “in the second half of 2019”.
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”Given that the blanket casino closure [in Macau due to Typhoon Mangkhut] happened on an all-important weekend day… we expect that somewhere between MOP1.1 billion [US$136.2 million] and MOP1.5 billion in GGR will be lost”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia