The head of Light & Wonder’s Asia-Pacific markets says the company is looking to Asia to lead its goal of becoming the number one gaming equipment supplier in the world.
Speaking with Inside Asian Gaming at this week’s G2E Asia exhibition in Singapore, Simon Johnson – Senior Vice President & International Managing Director (EMEA & APAC) – explained that becoming the “biggest and the best” was the clearly stated goal of Light & Wonder’s Board of Directors under the leadership of former Aristocrat executives Jamie Odell, now Light & Wonder Chairman, and Toni Korsanos, now Executive Vice Chair.
But he also noted that Asia was the market closest to achieving that goal, with the company now investing heavily to ensure the dream becomes reality.
“When Jamie and Toni came into the business and started to bring us on this growth journey, they were very clear that this is about being the number one player,” Johnson told IAG. “We want to be the biggest and the best.
“Obviously so does everyone else, but they’ve got a track record of having done it once before and a very clear determination to do it again.
“That gives Asia a very special place for us because as we look across that global business, the market where we are closest to that number one spot, that leadership spot, is in Asia. In some ways of counting performance, we are already there, but we want to show our customers, our investors and our colleagues that being No.1 isn’t just words but in fact a true statement of intent.
“Ken Jolly (Vice President and Managing Director, Asia) and the team have done a fantastic job of driving that growth and really pushing hard to get the maximum results. And as a business, having disposed of lottery and sports betting, we now have a real focus on being a content platform.
“So as a business in Asia, we have the time and the focus to really invest behind that success and I think we’re looking forward to some really exciting developments in terms of our Asia roadmap.”
According to Johnson, Light & Wonder is targeting significant growth across Asia in the next two to three years, although key to its ambitions is ensuring growth is sustainable in the long-term.
“We’re very focused on driving this momentum of sequential growth and improving the stability of that performance,” he said. “Building sustainable performance improvement over the long-term is at the heart of what this is.
“Of course, as our business evolves and as our competitor’s businesses evolve through M&A (mergers and acquisitions), that prism of exactly what No.1 means can change, but what you can never lose sight of is that improvement in shareholder value and improvement in performance. You want to reach that virtuous circle where performance drives confidence and confidence drive performance.”
While Light & Wonder unveiled a number of new products at G2E Asia, highlighted by its progressive link series Dragon Unleashed and Duō Fú Duō Cái Grand, Johnson said the exhibition had also provided him with greater market exposure given he only became responsible for the APC region last September.
“For me, it’s been super exciting to actually see the potential here in Asia,” he said.
“I mean, from an academic perspective, I’m very familiar with the nature of demographic change and the nature of the capital flows, all of which points to Asia being the growth engine for the world’s economy over the next 100 years.
“The potential is there theoretically but now having spent some time on the ground in Manila and here in Singapore, spending time across some of the Macau business and seeing the changes that are taking place in that market space, it’s fantastically exciting.”