Macao junket operator Sun City Gaming Promotion Company Limited “regretfully” announced on Friday the immediate termination of its business.
The company made the announcement in a brief Chinese-language statement addressed to its staff.
The company blamed “force majeure” for its demise. In the statement, dated 10 December, it pledged to collaborate with the government in order to ensure a “smooth transition.”
Inside Asian Gaming have described the closure as “a truly momentous yet not unexpected turn of events as Suncity was formerly the undisputed leader of VIP casino gaming promotion throughout Macao, Asia and the world.”
The company’s downfall came after the arrest of its sole shareholder, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, on 27 November. Chau and four alleged accomplices have been remanded in custody since 29 November, facing charges of organised crime, money laundering and illegal gambling operations. Another six suspects have been released on bail.
Suncity was founded by Chau in 2007. According to previous media reports, his company, which reportedly ran over a dozen VIP rooms for high-rolling gamblers at different gaming operators’ casinos, generated up to one-third of Macao’s gross gaming revenue (GGR). Macao has six rival gaming operators (SJM, Sands China, Galaxy, Melco, MGM, Wynn) that own a total of 42 casinos.
In related news, the company’s Hong Kong-listed arm Suncity Group Holdings Limited said in an “inside information announcement” on the website of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Friday night that it was facing a “possible loan default by an associate of the controlling shareholder of the company and possible enforcement of securities charges.”
According to the announcement, the issue concerns a HK$300 million loan by a syndicate of lenders, dated 30 July 2021, granted by the syndicate to a company wholly owned by Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, the controlling shareholder of Suncity Group Holdings Limited and its former chairman and executive director.
The announcement says that Chau is the guarantor of the loan. The lenders demand full repayment of the principal amount of the loan together with interest accrued thereupon to 7 December 2021 in the aggregate amount of HK$313,610,959 within five business days from 8 December.
According to the announcement, should Chau fail to meet the demand, “appropriate action will be taken against the borrower without further notice.”
The demand letter was issued by the legal advisors to Wooco Secretarial Services Limited as agent and security agent of the syndicate of lenders.
Meanwhile, the announcement also stated that trading in its shares was halted as of 9 am on Thursday, pending the announcement’s release. According to Friday night’s announcement, an application has been made by the company to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for the resumption of trading with effect from 9 am tomorrow.
At the end of trading on Thursday, Suncity Group’s shares stood at HK$0.138, +1.47 per cent from the previous day. As of Thursday, the company’s 52-week range was HK$0.105-0.860.
In another note, sources close to the Labour Affairs Bureau have indicated it will operate a special support counter for those affected by the Suncity termination at its Professional Training Centre on Istmo de Ferreira do Amaral from this morning.
The source, who asked not to be named, said the counter would remain open for as long as ex-Suncity staff needed the bureau’s assistance in arranging, retaining or finding a new job. The source said it remained to be seen how many former Suncity employees would seek the bureau’s help, The Macau Post Daily reported.