CLAIMS TO FAME
- One of only two operators with multiple properties on Macau’s Cotai Strip
- Opened Europe’s first true integrated resort in Cyprus in 2023
- Lone Macau operator present in the Philippines with City of Dreams Manila
Even a global pandemic can’t seem to slow Lawrence Ho down.
In April, barely three months after Macau reopened its borders to the world for the first time in more than three years, Ho’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment opened its US$1.2 billion Studio City Phase 2 expansion, including an expansive indoor and outdoor water park, more gaming space and a new 338-suite hotel known as Epic Tower. Another hotel, W Macau at Studio City, added another 557 rooms and 127 suites when it opened in September, as well as a spa, fitness center, indoor swimming pool and 1,100 square meters of event and meeting space.
In July, Melco also celebrated the long-awaited launch of its €600 million (US$660 million) City of Dreams Mediterranean integrated resort project in Cyprus.
The property is the largest of its kind in Europe – some would call it Europe’s first and only true integrated resort – and incorporates a 14-storey hotel featuring 500 guest rooms and suites, designer-brand retail, iconic architecture, renowned art, sporting facilities, an outdoor amphitheatre, family adventure park, plus world-class conference and exhibition space, a spacious and contemporary gaming floor and fine dining restaurants.
More importantly, it cements Melco’s position as a truly global operator given its presence in Macau and the Philippines, not to mention recent – albeit failed – moves into Japan and Australia.
While Ho, the son of Macau casino pioneer Stanley Ho and full brother to MGM’s Pansy Ho and SJM’s Daisy Ho, has never lacked ambition, he will be keen to see these new projects kick into gear sooner rather than later given the unprecedented challenges of recent years.
According to Moody’s Investors Service, Melco Resorts’ adjusted debt grew from US$4.9 billion as of the end of 2019 to US$8.7 billion at end-2022, while Studio City’s adjusted debt increased from US$1.5 billion to US$2.4 billion. It does, however, estimate Adjusted EBITDA of US$700 million this year, growing to US$1.2 billion in 2024 on the back of Macau’s continued recovery.
Certainly the signs are promising.
In the June 2023 quarter, Melco just about returned to net profit for the first time in three-and-a-half years on a 231% increase in operating revenues to US$947.9 million for the quarter, up 231% year-on-year, including gaming revenue of US$768 million and non-gaming revenue of US$179 million.
The company explained at the time that, while there was still some way to go, both mass drop and VIP direct turnover had grown every single month since the start of the year in a trend that is expected to continue into 2024.
Meanwhile, Melco has been busy getting its ducks in order, revealing in August that it is negotiating with the Macau government over proposed changes to its local non-gaming investments – presumably to achieve something more suitable for the times. Likewise, parent company Melco International Development Ltd, also run by Ho, revealed recently it had terminated a joint venture agreement to develop a multi-billion dollar mixed-use residential, entertainment hospitality complex in mainland China’s Guangdong Province that would have seen the Melco group operating a new theme park.
Evidence, it seems, that Lawrence Ho has his eyes firmly focused on much bigger prizes as he rides the Macau recovery train.
For the full list of 2023 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.