Chow Tai Fook
POWER SCORE: 736
POSITION LAST YEAR: 33
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Inherited father Cheng Yu-tung’s 10% of SJM Holdings parent STDM
- Strategic partner of Australia’s Star Entertainment Group with a 4.99% stake
- Acquired Baha Mar, largest resort in the Caribbean, from Chinese state creditors
OF THE ASIAN GAMING POWER 50’s big achievers, Henry Cheng probably spends the least amount of time on gaming matters. But this merely reflects the size and diversity of his Chow Tai Fook and New World global footprint.
That footprint has run into steep challenges in its varied gaming markets in recent years, not just from the pandemic, but also from legal and market issues — including over ownership of the Baha Mar integrated resort in the Bahamas, which Chow Tai Fook bought in 2016.
Vietnamese government reluctance to more widely open its casino market to locals means the Hoiana casino resort – backed by Suncity, Cheng’s one-time takeover target – faces the twin obstacles of pandemic travel restrictions and Chinese government hostility to gambling tourism.
In the Philippines, New World’s investment petered out in favor of a minority interest in International Entertainment Corp.
Now, the same threat will weigh on Chow Tai Fook’s investment in the Queen’s Wharf integrated resort in Brisbane, Australia, whose VIP revenue-driven business model was hatched before Beijing promised active intervention against foreign casinos – never mind Australia’s new-found hostility to junkets.
And yet, the very scale of Cheng’s domain, and the crossover of his empire’s luxury goods and services customer base, mean that his gaming operations will have the best chance to flourish in any environment.
And of course, Cheng still has that nearly 10% chunk of STDM, and Chow Tai Fook CEO Patrick Tsang on the SJM board, keeping him in the Macau loop.
For the full list of 2021 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.