Trading in shares of Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd halted on Thursday, for a third time in a fortnight. The company said the latest suspension in trading was pending an “announcement in relation to a possible loan default by an associate of the controlling shareholder of the company and possible enforcement of securities charged”.
A similar statement was issued by Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd, a firm controlled by Suncity Group Holdings. Summit Ascent is the principal investor in a hotel and gaming business – known as Tigre de Cristal – in Primorye, in the Russian Federation.
Suncity Group Holdings is controlled by detained casino junket boss Alvin Chau Cheok Wa. The company said last week that Mr Chau had tendered “his resignation from the posts of the chairman of the board and an executive director, with effect from 1 December 2021.”
Mr Chau is currently being held in pre-trial detention in Macau’s prison facility, on suspicion of organising illegal gambling for customers from mainland China, including online gambling via the Philippines.
Mr Chau also resigned from the posts of chairman of the board and a non-executive director of Summit Ascent, with effect from December 1.
Suncity Group Holdings has interests in several casino schemes around the Asia-Pacific region, but does not include any junket business. The Hong Kong-listed company had warned last month that if it lost Mr Chau’s financial support “for whatever reason”, its “financial position, business, and operation” would be “adversely affected”.
In a separate statement last week, the listed entity also said it had “suspended the operations of its travel and related business segment.”
All the Macau-based VIP gaming rooms of Suncity Group, a brand described previously by investment analysts as the largest VIP junket promoter in the city, ceased operation from December 1.
It has also been reported that Macau casino operators are to suspend collaboration with other junket brands in the city, although none of the casino firms have so far publicly confirmed their intentions to suspend collaboration with junkets.
Executives at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings Ltd said in Thursday comments that the brand had ongoing “contractual relationships” with junkets, but that it would review the situation when it was time for renewal of such agreements.
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”As the Macau gaming revenue structure is now leaning heavily towards the mass business … once the border fully reopens, the recovery from mass should drive the sector to bounce more swiftly”
Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li and Shirley Yang
Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein