FOUNDER, CONTROLLING SHAREHOLDER AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,485
POSITION LAST YEAR: 14
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Majority owner of Hong Kong listed NagaCorp
- Personally financing half of its US$3.5 billion Naga3 addition
Chen Lip Keong keeps writing one of the most impressive stories in Asian gaming. Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp, of which the former physician owns 67%, reports that prior to a COVID-19 shutdown from April into July, its NagaWorld integrated resort in Phnom Penh increased gross gaming revenue by 15% in this year’s first quarter, printing profits and EBITDA for the first half and paying a dividend to investors. In its August reopening, largely thanks to the Cambodian capital’s burgeoning Chinese expatriate population, NagaWorld’s VIP roll was 98% of the first quarter daily average, mass table buy-ins 90% and machine bills-in 93%.
That follows two years of GGR comfortably topping US$1 billion following the opening of the IR’s Naga2 extension in November 2017. Designed by Paul Steelman, Naga2 makes NagaWorld competitive with top regional destinations, and its VIP revenue has nearly doubled from US$625 million in 2017 to US$1.24 billion last year.
Amid close ties between Cambodia and China and expanding wealth across Southeast Asia, NagaCorp is developing US$3.5 billion Naga3, featuring a rooftop swimming pool and sky high gaming suites overlooking the Mekong River in the tallest tower in Cambodia, its scheduled 2025 completion unchanged by COVID. Cambodia’s government extended Naga’s monopoly within a 200km (124 mile) radius of Phnom Penh by 10 years to 2045 as part of the expansion agreement. NagaCorp’s gaming license runs to 2065. Following the playbook from Naga2, Dr Chen is financing half the cost in exchange for equity that will lift his ownership stake to 74%.
Not bad for a novice operator who started on a barge in a country still reeling from decades of war and a genocidal regime in 1995. Cambodia is finally in the process of enacting its long awaited Gaming Law, approved by the cabinet in July and passed by the National Assembly in September.
“Although it is expected to result in a very modest gaming tax – the lowest in the region by a country mile – it elevates Cambodia’s gaming industry via the introduction of a more international standard regulatory system. This in turn increases the value of Naga’s license,” says Union Gaming’s Grant Govertsen.
No wonder Dr Chen keeps acquiring shares.
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