5 Alvin Chau
CHAIRMAN AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Suncity Group Holdings
POWER SCORE: 2,247
POSITION LAST YEAR: 7
CLAIMS TO FAME
Heads Macau’s dominant junket promoter
Setting trend of expanding junkets into casino ownership and operations
Highest ranked Macau native in city’s leading industry
Suncity Group customers reportedly rolled HK$52 billion (US$6.6 billion) in Macau during the October 1-8 Golden Week holiday. More than ever, Alvin Chau’s team leads the Macau junket parade, controlling upwards of half the market. Macau’s VIP rebound over the past two years has brightened Suncity’s standing, and that of Chau, arguably the top Macau native in the city’s top industry. But these days, there’s much more to Suncity than Macau.
Suncity led the way into expanding both the geographic reach and functional depth of junket services from Macau casino hosting to wealth management and immigration, plus a website where you can book a VIP spot in Manila or Melbourne. Now it’s leading the way into casino ownership and operations.
There’s Vietnam, where Suncity owns 34% of the US$4 billion Hoiana IR project in central Vietnam in partnership with Henry Cheng’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and local investment fund VinaCapital. The US$650 million first phase is due to open next year with some 1,100 guest rooms, 200 condos, a golf course and a casino with 140 tables and more than 1,000 electronic gaming machine positions.
Union Gaming Group Managing Director in Macau Grant Govertsen suggests success as an owner in Vietnam could pave the way for Suncity to obtain a Macau gaming concession. Suncity has already been linked to a takeover of Imperial Palace in Taipa, which had 550 rooms and Greek Mythology casino before it was shuttered in late 2015.
Under its Hong Kong listed arm, Suncity Group Holdings, separated from the junket business, Suncity has management and consulting contracts with Hoiana as well the Van Don IR project in northern Vietnam. In October, it announced a similar deal with Golden Sun Sky, constructing a US$360 million casino-hotel in Sihanoukville, the Cambodian shore resort town that’s become a hub of mainly mainland Chinese casino investment.
A filing by the listed company, previously a vehicle for Chau’s mainland property known as Sun Century, reveals Cambodia deal details. The project is excepted to open in early 2020 with a casino measuring 120,000 square meters (1.3 million square feet) amid a 550,000-square meter development that includes hotels, residences, retail and MICE. The contract grants Suncity rights to operate the casino floor, cage and ancillary services, including food and beverage. Suncity’s fee will be 3% of GGR paid monthly, plus 5% or 6% of gaming EBITDA, depending on whether margins exceed 20%.
If the Sihanoukville casino has GGR of US$100 million at a 21% margin, Suncity will receive US$4.26 million. At a 25% margin, it would be $4.5 million and at 30%, $4.8 million. That’s not far from the junket promoter’s take on equivalent VIP play in Macau.
Chau’s stake in the listed company – Fame Select Limited, a 50-50 partnership between Chau and Cheng Ting Kong, chairman of Hong Kong-listed home furnishing manufacturer and moneylender Imperium Group, owns 72% of Suncity Group Holdings, plus convertible bonds – is valued close to US$400 million. According to filings, Chau also personally owns the 34% stake in the Hoi An project.
For the full list of 2018 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.