Angela Leong On Kei, an executive director of Macau-based casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd, said on Thursday that she agreed that Macau had seen improving trends in the VIP gaming market. But she added she had not seen any “special uptick” in SJM Holdings’ VIP business.
She made her comments on the sidelines of a public event, prior to the announcement the same day of the city’s aggregate November casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) number, which rose 14.4 percent judged year-on-year.
But Ms Leong’s reference to an improvement in Macau VIP gambling business chimed with stories on several Chinese-language financial newswires from Hong Kong, reported on Wednesday. They cited a note from analyst Karen Tang of Deutsche Bank AG that indicated Macau VIP gross gaming revenue growth in November was likely to have been 20 percent judged year-on-year. They also reported that the note stated this type of robust VIP growth rate could be extended into the coming six to 12 months.
“We didn’t see any special [November] uptick in this segment of business,” remarked SJM Holdings’ Ms Leong. But she added that December and January were likely to be “good months” for the overall gaming business of the firm.
SJM Holdings reported gaming revenue of approximately HKD9.99 billion for the three months to September 30, down by 11.1 percent from the prior-year period.
In the third quarter, the company recorded VIP gaming revenue of HKD4.40 billion, down by 19.1 percent from the prior-year period; revenue from the mass-market segment stood at approximately HKD5.32 million, down by 3.8 percent year-on-year.
The SJM Holdings executive also gave on Thursday a brief update to the media regarding a proposed theme park project for Macau’s Cotai district, which she is involved in promoting. While not an SJM Holdings project, it would be on land close to the company’s Grand Lisboa Palace casino resort. The latter venue is currently under construction and is due to be completed in 2017, according to previous company statements.
“There is only one hotel to be featured,” said Ms Leong, referring to the theme park plan. She briefly noted that the theme park’s hotel would possibly feature elements of the Japanese cartoon character Hello Kitty.
Ms Leong heads the theme park project’s promoter, Macau Theme Park and Resort Ltd.
The scheme was first announced in 2010, with a MOP10.4-billion (US$1.3 billion) price tag – excluding land costs – and a focus on family entertainment. At that time it was said the theme park would be developed in three phases and would include an indoor beach with wave pool, amusement rides, an equestrian centre and convention facilities.
When asked about the approval process required from Macau’s Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau for realisation of the project, Ms Leong said she had started to see “some progress”.
But she declined to disclose more details regarding the current proposed content of the project.
“We will make changes to our plan for the theme park considering the themes that can make visitors stay here [in Macau] longer,” said Ms Leong, adding that her development team for the theme park venture would strive to include “innovative content”.
Ms Leong was speaking to media on the sidelines of the “SJM and Macau SME Business Matching Session” held on Thursday. It is designed to highlight SJM Holdings’ participation in Macao Chamber of Commerce’s SME procurement partnership programme. The Macau government has called on the city’s casino firms to source more goods and services from local small- and medium-sized companies.
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”The upswing in visitation and gaming revenue is likely to aid Fitch-rated casino operators with a presence in Macau in reducing their debt levels”