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2017 Inside Asian Gaming Power 50: Number 19 - James Murren

Tuesday, 05 December 2017 14:44
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19 James Murren

CHAIRPERSON AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
MGM China Holdings

POWER SCORE
1,165

LAST YEAR
12

CLAIMS TO FAME
• Chairman of the world’s second largest casino company
• Credited with keeping MGM Resorts afloat during the GFC

If the strong domestic results achieved by MGM China’s parent company, MGM Resorts, in 3Q17 provided a welcome distraction for Chairman and CEO Jim Murren from the seemingly never-ending delays in construction of MGM Cotai in Macau, the deadly Mandalay Bay shooting on 1 October provided an unpleasant reality check.

The tragic event has cast a dark pall over Las Vegas as 2017 draws to a close and for MGM Resorts there remains uncertainty over potential litigation from families of the deceased.

Yet, tragedy aside, there is much for Murren and MGM Resorts to look forward to in 2018 as the company continues its impressive resurgence following the difficulties it faced during the Global Financial Crisis.

Murren himself played a major part in limiting the damage at the height of the crisis and was instrumental in negotiating the deal with Pansy Ho that would see MGM Resorts become majority stakeholder in MGM China in 2011. That piece of business proved to be a shrewd one with Macau essentially keeping MGM Resorts afloat during those more difficult times for the US market.

It’s worth noting too ahead of the upcoming January 2018 launch of MGM Cotai that Murren added another 4.95% of the pie last year, taking MGM Resorts’ stake to 56% – a healthy chunk should Cotai perform well as expected.

No doubt all eyes will be on the early results from MGM Cotai’s VIP segment, with the company having announced that it would open with only in-house VIP, adding junkets at a later date. The exclusive Mansion product will also be delayed until mid-2018 although in the company’s recent 3Q17 earnings call Murren was quick to express his high expectations of the product.

“We believe it will have a significant competitive advantage in the VIP business,” he said. “We’ve spent a long time developing, designing, creating, programming a property that would be unique to Macau and certainly unique to the hospitality market.

“We’ve worked hard to deliver on a promise that we’ve made to the government to create an entertainment destination that’s unparalleled. And I think when you see [it] you’ll feel that we delivered on that promise of entertainment, of food and beverage, of retail, that’s uniquely Chinese, uniquely Macanese, and embodies the idea of MGM as an entertainment company.”

To return to the full list of 2017 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.

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