Philippines-listed Suntrust Home Developers Inc says it does not expect a “significant impact” from the spread of the Covid-19 virus, as the company shifts its business focus to pursue tourism-related activities.
Suntrust is a 51-percent subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd, a company controlled by Alvin Chau Cheok Wa. Mr Chau is also the boss of privately-held Macau junket investor Suncity Group Ltd.
Suntrust’s primary purpose had been changed from real estate development to tourism-related businesses, including developing and operating “tourism-oriented facilities,” such as hotels and resorts. The company signed in February a lease agreement to use a site earmarked for a casino scheme located in the Philippine capital Manila.
Under a deal first announced in October, Suntrust is to develop and operate the “main hotel casino” at a property identified as “Westside City Resorts”.
In a Monday filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Suntrust acknowledged that travel restrictions and other measures being implemented in the Philippines to address the Covid-19 pandemic might “have a foreseeable impact on tourism” in that country. Such measures however “would not significantly affect the company’s current business plans which are still at the preliminary stage,” it added.
All gaming operations in Metro Manila have been suspended from midnight on Sunday, said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor). The decision was said to be part of the national government’s efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the country.
On Thursday, President Duterte announced that Metro Manila – a region with about 12 million people – would undergo lockdown for a month to help contain the outbreak locally of the new coronavirus that leads to Covid-19 infection. Last week the spread of the disease was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
Mr Duterte said additionally that the Philippines would also restrict entry for travellers from countries with local transmission and suspend domestic travel to and from Metro Manila from March 15 to April 14, subject to daily review.
In Monday’s filing, Suntrust said it would be taking precautions “to mitigate the risk of transmission of the Covid-19 virus, such as to disinfect office premises and facilities, implement health and sanitation protocols, and limit face-to-face meetings.”
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”There’s been a 20 percent or 30 percent increase in our testing staff to handle globally the amount of extra work that we’ve got, and the Philippines and Macau have definitely contributed to that overall growth”
Chief commercial officer of testing and certification firm GLI