Brokerage UBS Securities Asia Ltd says in a recent note that the official opening for the Hoiana resort (pictured in an artist’s rendering), a Vietnam casino complex, is now planned for the second half of 2021. The institution said the information was based on comments made by the management of the Suncity Group brand during a meeting with UBS analysts. Suncity Group has interests encompassing Macau junkets, and regional casino development projects including Hoiana.
Hoiana had a so-called “soft-opening” in June last year, with the “grand opening pushed out to second half 2021” because of “border restrictions” in Vietnam as countermeasures against Covid-19, stated analysts Angus Chan, Ian Wong, and Perry Yeung in the Wednesday memo. The Suncity brand had previously mentioned only that the official opening of the scheme was expected during 2021.
GGRAsia approached Suncity Group for a comment, but we received no reply by the time this story went online.
The Suncity brand stated earlier this month that Hoiana would see beginning this year its second phase of development, and would target “tourists from Southeast Asia”.
Suncity Group has been well known for serving high-value casino players from mainland China that wish to gamble in Macau. But in recent years the junket brand has spread its presence to other regulated casino markets.
Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, boss of Suncity Group, leads Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings Ltd, which is one of the backers of Hoiana.
Suncity Group Holdings also has an investment in Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd, the promoter of the Tigre de Cristal casino resort in Vladivostok, Russia. The Suncity brand is additionally pursuing the development of a casino resort project for Manila, in the Philippines.
The UBS team quoted Suncity Group Holdings’ management as saying it expects to generate in 2023 earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of US$250 million from Tigre de Cristal.
The casino investor said previously that phase two of Tigre de Cristal would “commence in 2021, doubling the number of entertainment facilities as well as tripling the number of guest rooms”.
The Hong Kong-listed firm expects to generate EBITDA of US$300 million in 2023 from its casino scheme in Manila, according to UBS.
The brokerage added that the Suncity management had indicated that the “growth drivers” would be the brand’s “wide customer network of circa 190,000 members and circa US$6 billion in gross gaming revenue in 2019.”
Other drivers included “the development of regional direct VIP and premium mass businesses,” and capacity expansion at Tigre de Cristal and the launch of the Manila scheme by “end-2022,” added the UBS team.
In Macau, privately-held junket investor Suncity Group has seen its VIP volume “running at around 20 percent of pre Covid-19 levels since October, with no notable sequential improvement this far,” noted the institution. Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC gave similar guidance to investors earlier this month regarding Suncity’s Macau VIP rolling chip turnover, based on talks with management of the Suncity listed entity.
UBS stated in its memo: “Suncity noted that given the likely challenges associated with VIP junket operations in Macau, there are better returns in their view, in the faster growing ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] markets.”
The financial institution added: “Suncity expects their business volume mix will shift from two-thirds Macau one-third non-Macau in 2019 to 50-50 by 2023.”
Under a change in mainland China criminal law – with effect from March 1 – anyone who “organises” mainland Chinese for the purpose of overseas gambling will be deemed to have committed a criminal act.