Hong Kong’s Suncity acquires majority stake in Suntrust

suntrust logo - Hong Kong’s Suncity acquires majority stake in Suntrust

A SUBSIDIARY of Hong Kong’s Suncity Group Holdings, Ltd. has acquired a majority stake in Suntrust Home Developers. Inc., which is co-developing a resort and casino in Entertainment City.

At its stockholders’ meeting yesterday, Suntrust Chairman and President Ferdinand B. Masi announced that Fortune Noble, a subsidiary of Suncity Group, is now the majority shareholder with a 51% stake in the company.

The board of directors also increased Suntrust’s authorized capital stock to P23 billion, from the current P3 billion. Fortune Noble is subscribing to 2.55 billion common shares in Suntrust, while tycoon Andrew Tan’s Megaworld Corp. is subscribing to an additional 2.18 billion common shares.

After the transaction, Megaworld, which had a 42.48% stake in Suntrust, will have its stake reduced to 34%.

“We believe that the tourism sector, which has seen significant growth in recent years, will continue to show sustainable growth and attract more investments which will be able to drive more growth to the company,” Mr. Masi said at the briefing.

At the same time, Suntrust said its board of directors had approved a co-development agreement with Westside City Resorts World, Inc., another company owned by Mr. Tan that is developing the 31-hectare integrated resort and casino in the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s (PAGCOR) Entertainment City in Parañaque.

Reuters reported that the Suntrust deal marks the Hong Kong group’s first step in tapping Manila’s gaming industry, which has grown rapidly over the past decade, attracting foreign entrants and generating tax revenue.

“Outside of Macau, the most decent city for gaming is Manila because of the scale, three international brands and facilities, airport. Quite convenient,” Andrew Lo, executive director at Suncity, told Reuters.

Alvin Chau, the founder of Suncity, has grown the company from operating a high roller table in Wynn Macau’s casino in 2007 to a sprawling conglomerate with businesses ranging from property to autos and thousands of employees.

In a separate statement, Suntrust said it signed a deal to develop and exclusively operate the main hotel casino portion of an integrated resort in the capital. Suntrust would operate the casino and a hotel with at least 400 rooms, around 400 gaming tables and 1,200 slot machines for both mass market and high rollers.

Shares in Suntrust were suspended from trading on Tuesday. Its shares surged 37% on Monday.

Suntrust will lease the site for the casino-hotel from the developers of the larger Westside City Resorts World project, including Genting Hong Kong Ltd HK, which will also include a retail center and residential apartments.

As of end-June, the Westside developers had spent P96.5 billion ($1.89 billion) on the project that will start operations before 2023.

Philippines’ gross gaming revenues rose 14% to P120.48 billion ($2.36 billion) in the first half, government data showed.

The industry includes 10 private casino firms operating 1,785 gaming tables and 10,799 electronic gaming machines, according to government data. The state gaming regulator PAGCOR also operates several casinos totalling 477 tables and 9,751 gaming machines.

Suncity’s acquisition of Suntrust is subject to regulatory checks. — Denise A. Valdez and Reuters

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