IAG September 2014 - page 10

inside
asiangaming
September2014
10
Macau,”saysGEGDeputyChairmanFrancisLui,whohasaparticular
affinity for those consumers.
A civil and structural engineer by training, he started his career
in the late ’70s in the quarries of Hong Kong with his family’s
constructionmaterials business and in 1985 started doing business
directly inmainlandChina.
“If there isaperson inMacauwhounderstandswhat theChinese
customer will look like in the next five or 10 years it is probably
somebody like me, who has been there doing business in China,
seeing them evolving,” he says.
His father, Lui family patriarch andGEGChairman Lui CheWoo,
is ranked the second-richestman inAsia, according to
Forbes
, thanks
largely to the family’s 51% stake in GEG, which even after recent
sharp sell-downs inMacau casino stocks has amarket capitalization
of more than US$30 billion, ranking it the world’s No. 2 gaming
company bymarket capbehind LasVegas Sands.
The elder Mr Lui confirmed publicly in 2012 what was already
widely known in themarket—his son is in chargeof the business.
Earlierthisyear,GEGcelebratedthe10thanniversaryof itsoperations
inMacau. FrancisLuihasdonesowellholdinghisownagainstSJM, the
legendary Stanley Ho’s former monopoly, and international stalwarts
Sands, Wynn Resorts andMGM Resorts International that it’s easy to
forget thatprior to2004hehadnogamingexperienceat all.
Galaxy began operations in Macau in July 2004, at the Waldo,
a third-party-owned venue, one of the three casinos of the City Clubs
brand that Galaxy now operates (after assuming direct ownership of a
fourth,GrandWaldo, lastyear).But itwasonly in2006,with theopening
of StarWorldHotel, thatGEG’s brand identity began to emerge.Owing
to the relatively small footprint and limited amenities at StarWorld, that
brand-buildingwas initially defined by a strong servicemindset and an
ability to forge lasting relationships with players and junkets. Those
qualities, which continue to drive StarWorld’s success in a challenging
marketplace,werecarried through to thesprawlingUS$2.1billionGalaxy
Macau,whichfinallygaveMrLui aplatformworthyof fulfillinghisvision
ofprovidinganexperience imbuedwithadistinctivelyAsianflavor rather
thanmerely transplanting theLasVegasmegaresortmodel toMacau.
He defines his management philosophy as a mix of his Chinese
upbringing and Western education.
Forbes
said of him: “When Lui
Che Woo first won the Macau gambling license, Francis was taking
business coursesat StanfordUniversity and found the casino industry
in Las Vegas impressive. He noticed that the Americanmodel added
entertainmentelementsbesides traditionalgambling inorder toattract
tourists. And during his global travels he found Southeast Asian-style
service thebest. It dawnedonhim that he could combine the two.”
The US$2.5 billion Phase 2 expansion of Galaxy Macau will
expand Mr Lui’s vision, growing the property from three hotels to
five, widening the retail selection from 35 stores tomore than 200,
expanding the popular rooftop resort deck, and adding more F&B
outlets and entertainment offerings.
The company is also finalizing plans for phases 3 and 4 and
says construction could begin as early as the end of this year, with
a further investment of US$7.7 billion, focused on non-gaming
facilities. Meanwhile, Grand Waldo, located near Galaxy Macau on
Cotai and purchased last year for $417 million, is undergoing an
extensive refurbishment and expected to reopen early next year with
an assortment of all-new leisure and entertainment attractions.
LimKokThay
ExecutiveChairmanandCEO
GentingBerhad
Adecadeago,
fewwouldhavepicturedaMalaysia-basedmonopoly
operator embarking on an unrivaled global casino development
frenzy—a frenzy that was arguably kicked off by the Singapore
government’s decision in 2005 to legalize casinos.
Prior to that, since 1970, Genting had been content to earn
healthy profits fromGentingHighlands, recently rebranded Resorts
WorldGenting, which continues to enjoy an exclusive casino license
in Malaysia. The catchment area for RWG covers Malaysia and
Singapore,soGenting’sdecision tovie foroneof the twonew licenses
thatwent up for bid in theneighboring city-statewas viewedbymany
at the time as a defensive maneuver to hedge against expected
cannibalization of its Malaysia operations. The company, led by
billionaire LimKok Thay, pressedonwith its bid even as othermajor
operators, includingWynnResorts,MelcoCrownEntertainment and
Caesars Entertainment, dropped out owing to the steep investment
outlaysdemandedby theSingaporegovernment. The cost eventually
proved justified, of course, as theLionCity’s two IRshavegoneon to
becomeperhaps themost profitable casinos in theworld.
Although gaming revenue growth in Singapore appears to have
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,...80
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