Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd says that if it acquires the stalled Baha Mar scheme there will be “no affiliation” with Macau-based casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd for the project, reported local newspaper the Bahamas Tribune.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, an investor in casino schemes in Macau, Australia and Vietnam, announced last week it was in talks with the government of the Bahamas to acquire Baha Mar (pictured in a rendering), a fraught casino resort project in the Caribbean archipelago.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises was founded by Hong Kong billionaire Cheng Yu Tung, who died in late September. Mr Cheng was a longstanding business associate of Macau gaming tycoon Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
In 1982 Mr Cheng bought a 10 percent stake in Mr Ho’s Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau SA, also known as STDM. For four decades until 2002, STDM was the holder of a Macau casino monopoly; the firm is now the controlling shareholder of SJM Holdings, one of the six licensed Macau casino operators.
Mr Cheng’s son, Henry Cheng Kar Shun, has been a non-executive director of SJM Holdings since 2013.
Commenting on the links to SJM Holdings, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises told the Bahamas Tribune: “The Cheng family’s role in the Macau casino is strictly as an investor with no involvement in day-to-day management of the casino or oversight of the gaming industry in Macau.”
“There will be no affiliation on this project [Baha Mar] with STDM or SJM,” the company reportedly added.
The comments from Chow Tai Fook Enterprises came a day after Dionisio D’Aguilar, a former director of the resort’s original developer Baha Mar Ltd, suggested that the Hong Kong company was an unsuitable investor for the Bahamas. Mr D’Aguilar claimed that Chow Tai Fook Enterprises had been unable to obtain a casino licence in two U.S. states in the past, and expressed concerns over the company’s links to Mr Ho’s businesses.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises told the Bahamas Tribune: “Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has never applied for a casino licence in the U.S. and, a consortium including Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has just been approved for the granting of a casino licence in Queensland, Australia.”
The Hong Kong company is an investor in a consortium – led by Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group Ltd – developing a multibillion-dollar casino resort in Queensland. The consortium said in October it had been formally granted a casino licence by the Queensland government.
Chow Tai Fook Enterprises has also acquired a controlling stake in a US$4-billion Vietnam casino project in September 2015.
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