FOUNDER, CONTROLLING SHAREHOLDER AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,535
POSITION LAST YEAR: 14
CLAIMS TO FAME
• Majority shareholder in NagaCorp, the first casino company listed in Hong Kong
• Naga holds 70-year license with a 40-year monopoly to 2035 in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh
CELEBRATING its second anniversary in November, Naga2 changed the game for NagaCorp and its CEO Chen Lip Keong, who owns 66% of the company, boosting his net worth beyond US$5 billion. Dr Chen acquired a large block of those shares by financing construction of Naga2 and he’s poised to repeat the formula for Naga3, an even larger extension of the Phnom Penh integrated resort.
It’s smart to follow the Naga2 playbook. Dr Chen provided US$392 million to build the extension and NagaCity Walk, the underground shopping mall joining it to the original NagaWorld across the street. Naga2’s Paul Steelman designed twin towers added 900 guest rooms, 300 gaming tables, 2,500 machines, a 2,200 seat theater and a dozen F&B outlets.
Gross gaming revenue rose 55% to US$1.4 billion in 2018 from a year earlier, Naga2’s first full year of operation, and increased another 22% in the first half. VIP roll grew 71% in 2018 and 38% in 1H19, while mass revenue expanded 57% and 34% respectively. EBITDA reached US$512 million last year, up 60%, and grew 41% in the first half.
Naga aims to extend its winning formula to Naga3. Pending shareholder approval, Dr Chen will finance half the US$3.5 billion cost by purchasing new shares, with company cash flow covering the rest. Naga has acquired a 16,837 square meter (181,166 square foot) site, more than double its present footprint, behind Naga2. Preliminary plans include expanding gaming, adding 4,000 guests rooms for a complex total beyond 6,000, plus entertainment that leverages its multiple skyscrapers towering above the Mekong River. The company is also building a casino hotel in the Primorsky Entertainment Zone outside Vladivostok, expected to open in 2021.
For the full list of 2019 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.