EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
Sands China Ltd
POWER SCORE: 2,623
POSITION LAST YEAR: 7
CLAIMS TO FAME
• Sands China’s first Chinese president
• Experience in construction and property development
• Well-connected politically
CONSIDERED a politically astute acquisition when he first joined Sands China as President and COO in 2015, Wilfred Wong may well pay his dues and more over the coming years as the company enters into the all-important re-tendering process for a Macau casino license.
While the details of that process are yet to be made public, rest assured Dr Wong will play a key role in any discussions the city’s most prominent casino operator holds with the powers that be both at home in Macau and further abroad in Beijing – particularly given the delicate position the American-owned company faces thanks to the ongoing US-China trade war.
Needless to say, this 67-year-old has connections aplenty. Prior to joining Sands China, Dr Wong held positions in top management at K Wah International Holdings – the parent company of Macau rival Galaxy Entertainment Group – under Lui Che Woo; at Henderson China Holdings, a privately owned, Hong Kong-based company engaged in property development and management in the PRC; at Shui On Group, whose holdings include property development, construction and construction materials in Hong Kong and on the mainland; and at Synergis Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of Hsin Chong specializing in property management and maintenance.
More recently he chaired the board of directors of Hong Kong-based Hsin Chong Construction Group, which was contracted by Sands China on all of its Macau IR projects.
That experience alone has surely come in handy in recent times with Sands having embarked on an ambitious US$2.2 billion transformation of Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner Macao – making it the company’s third themed casino resort alongside The Venetian Macao and The Parisian Macao once complete in 2021.
Meanwhile, under his watch, Sands China has reclaimed its place as Macau market share leader in 2019, with analysts putting its GGR share at 23.2% in 2Q19 ahead of main rival Galaxy at 20.6%. Notably, while the bulk of Macau’s operators lost traction in the quarter due to a range of headwinds – namely the trade war and a slumping Chinese economy – Sands not only held firm but managed to book a small 1.4% increase in revenue to US$2.15 billion and 2.0% increase in Adjusted EBITDA to US$765 million.
Discussing the reasons behind such solidity during a September interview with local broadcaster TDM, Dr Wong pointed to the company’s “mature mass market” segment, stating “we are probably more insulated to many of the VIP segment impacts” than its rivals.
Indeed, 12 years after it opened, The Venetian Macao continues to stand as one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, while strong growth at The Parisian suggests a similar trend developing next door.
According to Sands China, base win on its mass market tables actually grew 14.7% in 2Q19, pushing the segment’s contribution to the company’s bottom line up from 53% 12 months earlier to 56% this time around.
No wonder The Londoner concept looks so appealing. Fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, Dr Wong understands better than most the importance of broadening Macau’s appeal to the wider Chinese tourist market and the opportunities this can bring long into the future.
For the full list of 2019 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.