Genting S'pore to partner Japanese firms for casino resort

PETALING JAYA: Genting Bhd has said the group’s 51.9%-owned Genting Singapore Plc will partner unnamed “Japanese institutions” to bid for an integrated casino resort in Japan.

“Japan has tabled in Parliament the Casino Introduction Bill and it is scheduled to be read within the next few weeks. With this exciting advancement, Genting Singapore has organised a dedicated project team to understand, monitor and prepare for developments in the near future,” it said in a statement.

It noted that such a proposal would require very significant financial resources that Genting Singapore was well-positioned to execute.

Genting Singapore had cash and cash equivalents of S$6.05bil (RM15.5bil) versus liabilities of S$1.53bil (RM3.92bil) as at March 31.

Genting Singapore is among the gaming players that are eyeing a slice of Japan’s casino sector, following its plan to revive the liberalisation of its gaming industry.

As a rough gauge, the pachinko industry of the Land of the Rising Sun alone is estimated to be worth RM97.64bil a year.

Analysts estimate the first casino resort to open as early as 2019 in Japan after the casino bill is passed.

As for the group’s existing gaming business, its United Kingdom unit generated improved volume of business and higher hold percentage from its London operations.

“Bad debt recovery was also higher in the first quarter and higher earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was consequently achieved,” it said.

In the United States, it recorded a higher turnover largely as a result of the commencement of operations of Resorts World Bimini in Bahamas last June.

The US operations, however, registered a lower EBITDA due to the loss suffered by the Bimini operations, which arose from the operational challenges associated with the start-up of its operations, as well as the lower EBITDA from Resorts World Casino New York City due to higher payroll costs.

Overall, the group’s revenue for its first quarter ended March 31 rose 20% to RM4.69bil compared to RM3.91bil a year earlier, while net profit jumped RM100mil or 25% to RM497.5mil.

Its 49.3%-owned Genting Malaysia Bhd’s topline for the same period climbed 9.46% to RM2.03bil from RM1.86bil year-on-year. Despite that, the subsidiary’s net profit fell 14.6% to RM358.3mil from RM419.46mil a year ago mainly due to taxation. Its pre-tax profit increased 18% to RM463.2mil from RM392.83mil.

“Higher volume of business and a higher hold percentage in the premium players business of Resorts World Genting in Malaysia contributed to its higher revenue in the first quarter,” it noted.

Following its plans to reinvigorate and transform Resorts World Genting, it expects more parts of the First World Plaza to be closed in the coming months, but will work towards mitigating the effects of these closures.

The conglomerate’s plantation arm, Genting Plantation Bhd, saw its profit more than double to RM101.06mil on the back of RM332.88mil in revenue, mainly due to higher palm product prices and higher fresh fruit bunch production.

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