Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd., a Hong Kong company with businesses from property to jewellery, is ready to invest in a US$4 billion casino project in Vietnam.
“We are interested,” Henry Cheng, a director at the closely-held investment company, said in a Nov. 28 interview about the casino resort in the central Vietnam province of Quang Nam. “We are doing something now to secure this project.” He didn’t disclose more details.
Chow Tai Fook, controlled by the family of Hong Kong’s fourth richest man, Cheng Yu-Tung, is looking to tap a boom in gaming demand as more Chinese travel overseas. Vietnamese policy makers are seeking to replicate the success of Singapore and Macau in attracting gaming resorts and tourism.
VinaCapital Group, Vietnam’s largest fund manager, is developing the Quang Nam project and had almost completed negotiations with an unnamed foreign partner, according to an October report by the Vietnam Investment Review.
Don Lam, chief executive officer at VinaCapital, declined to comment and said in an e-mail the project is “still going through various issues and not yet finalized.”
In June, Chow Tai Fook, Hong Kong-based property developer Far East Consortium International Ltd. and Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. joined hands to bid for a contract to build a casino in Brisbane, Australia. The two Hong Kong companies will each take 25 percent stakes in the project, according to a June 23 statement from Brisbane-based Echo.
Cheng Yu-Tung’s family also has separate investments in gaming in Macau, the only place in China where casinos are legal. Cheng Yu-Tung owns a 10 percent stake in closely held Sociedade de Turismo & Diversoes de Macau SA (STDM), founded by his longtime friend Stanley Ho. The 10 percent stake in STDM gives him control of more than 290 million shares of SJM Holdings Ltd., Asia’s largest casino operator.
Henry Cheng, Cheng Yu-Tung’s son, is also chairman of Hong Kong-listed International Entertainment Corp., an entertainment company that agreed in January to pay as much as HK$7.35 billion ($948 million) for a stake in Macau gambling-junket operator Sun City Gaming Promotion Co. Junket operators arrange trips to Macau for high-stakes bettors from Mainland China.
Chow Tai Fook also wants to expand its gaming business in South Korea and Australia, and will use the profits for charity, Cheng said in the interview in Shanghai.
“We would like to promote this business and try to increase the revenue for our foundation, and try to do more charity in the future,” Cheng said. “That’s my aim.”