Sands China determined to maintain investment in the SAR – CEO

Speaking during the group’s latest financial period earnings call, Sands China new CEO and Chairman, Robert Goldstein, underlined that there is “no better market” for the gaming group to invest at the moment than Macau.

The Sands CEO stated that before his passing the group’s founder, Sheldon Adelson indicated that he couldn’t “wait to invest US$5 billion (MOP626.1 billion) to US$10 billion in Macau, with Goldstein noting that whenever the Macau government makes a decision on the future concessions set to expire in 2022 it will be contingent upon a “rather substantial capital investment”.

“While the pandemic continues to impact our business adversely, we have achieved positive EBITDA in both Macau and Singapore in the fourth quarter, and there’s no doubt, in my mind, our business was down to pre-COVID levels in the future. In Macao, the Grand Suite Four Seasons is now open, and the first phase of Londoner Macao will officially open in February,” Goldstein stated.

Sands China posted a net loss of US$246 million in the fourth quarter, under half of the US$562-million loss in the third quarter, however, it managed to bring back its adjusted property earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) results to a positive US$47 million.

“We’re not done in Macau. We intend to be there for many more years […] I won’t make a bet. But I bet the one thing that will happen is the government is going to necessitate that licensees make investments in Macau, and we want to be there and be ready,” he added in the conference call.

The Grand Suites at Four Seasons added 289 room units to Four Seasons Hotel Macao in October of last year with the group to hold an official unveiling of its US$2 billion Londoner rebrand of Sands Cotai Central on February 8 of this year.

The Londoner entry hall

“We are very excited about the progressive unveiling of the Londoner Macao throughout the course of ’21. Sands China is well-positioned to capture a rebound in tourism when the pandemic finally does subside […] We will continue to invest in our resort product, nurture our local talent and, of course, support the local community,” Goldstein added.

According to Sands China Chief Operating Officer, Grant Chum, the rebound in the fourth quarter led primarily by premium mass and luxury retail, noting that by December, Four Seasons’ retail mall was up 16 per cent over the prior year and actually managed to achieve a record month pre and post-pandemic.

“There is just not sufficient visitation to power all segments of the business and to replace the volumes that we lost. So the base mass remains very subdued. Macau only had 20 per cent of the prior year’s visitations during the fourth quarter,” Chum added.

The Sands CFO also indicated that from mid-December the group was reporting a positive momentum in terms of forwarding bookings in January and into Chinese New Year, which has been partially halted by the increase in cases in Mainland China and subsequent travel advisories notices that could indicate lower travel volume during the holiday period.

“Things have started to moderate from a forward booking and the pace of new bookings and obviously, the increase in cancellations. So that is directly related to the trending of the pandemic and some of these isolated outbreaks that we’ve seen, particularly in the northern provinces. So with that in mind, it’s not easy to see a relaxation of the current guidelines in terms of travel. That sets the tone,” he added.

Gross gaming revenues have increased by 2.6 per cent in January 2021 from the previous month to about MOP8 billion (US$1 billion), the best monthly gaming results in 12 months.