malaysian billionaire lim kok thay, boss of genting group, revealed as final bidder for a prized macau casino licence

Lim Kok Thay, the billionaire chairman of Malaysia’s Genting Group, has been revealed as a bidder for a Macau casino licence, becoming the seventh and final hopeful to throw their hat into the ring before bidding closed on Wednesday evening.

The entry of Genting into the fray – the “only truly global gaming operator” – may strike fear into the hearts of the existing licence holders vying to keep a foothold, said one analyst.

GMM Limited submitted a bid to the Macau government just hours before the tender closed at 5:45pm on Wednesday. According to Macau’s company registry, GMM is represented by Lim Kok Thay.

A representative from GMM confirmed the company is linked to Genting, according to TDM, Macau’s public services broadcaster.

Genting could not immediately be reached for comment.

Genting Hong Kong, a casino and cruise ship operator, filed a winding-up petition in Bermuda in January after the bankruptcy of its shipyard in Germany triggered US$2.78 billion of debt.

malaysian billionaire lim kok thay, boss of genting group, revealed as final bidder for a prized macau casino licence

Lim Kok Thay, the billionaire chairman of Genting Group. Photo: Bloomberg

The addition of GMM means there are seven bids for a maximum of six concessions to be granted under Macau’s revamped tendering process. All six current concessionaires, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment, SJM Holdings, Melco Entertainment and MGM China, have submitted their bids, according to the government website.

“Genting was always interested in Macau,” said Ben Lee, a consultant at iGamiX Management and Consulting in Macau.

“Of all the gaming companies in the world, they are the only truly global gaming operator, with footprints in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, the UK, US, Bahamas and the high seas.

“The only market they missed out on is Macau which also happens to be the world’s largest.

“If there was a newcomer whom any of the existing concessionaires would fear, it would be Genting as Genting is the only one with a successful track record in developing and running theme parks, and willing and able to invest significantly in non-gaming.”

The Macau government published the rules for the retendering of gaming concessions in June. The criteria called on operators to present their detailed plans for developing foreign tourist markets, the benefits brought by gaming and non-gaming investments to Macau, and the corporate social responsibilities they would undertake.

The new concessions are 10-year gaming contracts allowing casinos to operate in Macau from January 1, 2023. The licences of the six current operators expire at the end of the year.

It was not surprising that all six current licence holders had submitted bids for new concessions, said Lee.

“They already have their foot in the game and they already have sunk costs. It would be unprecedented for them to pull out right now,” he said.

The government will review the proposals and negotiate with the bidders on detailed terms and conditions, before announcing the six winners by the end of this year.

Wynn said its licence, if granted, will be held under the name of Wynn Resorts (Macau) S. A.

Melco said it submitted a bid in July through its subsidiary Melco Resorts (Macau).

“Our proposal reinforces our commitment to Macau and the further diversification of its economy. We look forward to playing a leadership role in partnering with the Macau government to execute on the government’s vision,” said Lawrence Ho Yau-lung, chairman and chief executive officer, in a company statement.

At the end of last month, MGM China said it would inject 4.8 billion patacas (US$594 million) into a subsidiary, MGM Grand Paradise, that will tender for a new gaming concession in Macau. If the tender is successful, Pansy Ho, the daughter of the late casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun, will serve as managing director.

“We are delighted to participate in the tender. We are optimistic about Macau’s future, and we eagerly look forward to continuing to work closely with the Macau government in contributing to the prosperous and sustainable development of Macau,” said Daisy Ho, chairman of SJM Holdings, in a press release.

Under the revised gaming law announced earlier this year, the Macau government said it would increase the minimum capital for concessionaires to 5 billion patacas from 200 million patacas. The managing director must also be a Macau permanent resident holding at least 15 per cent of the capital in the concessionaire.

Keyword: Malaysian billionaire Lim Kok Thay, boss of Genting Group, revealed as final bidder for a prized Macau casino licence

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