Work on the new property under construction on Cotai – Grand Lisboa Palace – resumed yesterday, confirmed the Chief Executive Officer of local gaming operator SJM Holdings Ltd., Ambrose So Shu Fai, on the sidelines of the 13th annual SJM Scholarship Awards at Grand Lisboa yesterday.
“In the meantime, of course, we have lost about seven to eight weeks and we are trying to readjust the programme of construction to try to catch up with the schedule,” said So, adding that the operator estimated that the new property – on which construction was suspended following industrial accidents on the site last June – would be unveiled by the second half of 2018.
Meanwhile, when asked whether the absence of operations on the Cotai Strip had affected performance during the first half of the year, given that MGM also suffered shrinkage in its VIP segment with no property beyond the Peninsula, Mr.So said “it was just a coincidence”.
Citing interim results posted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Mr. So affirmed that the two situations “would last in one blow”.
“The performance in the premier mass was not satisfactory and the disappointing result [of the segment] is only because of bad luck,” remarked the CEO.
While the second situation is owing to the awaited approval of the government for the renovated Jai Alai.
“Currently, the hotel of Jai Alai is still waiting for official approval but we have already hired people to operate it,” explained Mr. So. “Considering all the conditions, our performance in the second quarter is very similar to the first quarter […] so [we] hope that improvements appear in the third quarter.”
When asked the reason for the long wait for permission for Jai Alai, the executive director of SJM, Angela Leong On Kei, cited a statement made by the Chief Executive during the plenary session in the Legislative Assembly yesterday that the government is improving the procedures of approving licences.
The casino area in the Jai Alai building commenced operations in December last year, while the retail area in the building started business last April. The 132-room Jai Alai Hotel is still awaiting permission from the government, as stated in the company’s recent filing.
The CEO revealed that performance in July alone “has rebounded significantly”.
Total revenue fell 1.9 per cent, to HK$20.64 billion, while gaming revenue decreased 2 per cent, to HK$20.37 billion, profit falling 12.9 per cent, to HK$955 million and adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization) fell 7.7 per cent to HK1.5 billion.
On the other hand, Mr. So confirmed that Andrew Billany, the senior vice president of operations at SJM Cotai, had already announced his resignation to the board.
“We had planned to assign Andrew Billany to engage in the Grand Lisboa Palace operation, but now we will have to hire more people [to compensate],” said the CEO.
The SJM CEO disclosed that Billany is to take another position at another company outside of Macau.