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‘There’s a lot we can do together.’ In conversation with Monaco’s Frédéric Genta

The trade official talked to Macao News about the natural synergies between the principality and the SAR.




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Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 23 Apr 2024, 4:02 pm

People often call Macao an Asian Las Vegas but it’s more accurately an Asian Monaco – and vice versa. The two cities are extraordinarily alike.

Both are tiny, for a start. In fact, at 2.08 square kilometres, Monaco is 16 times smaller than Macao. Both are also known for their motorsports: many drivers who won fame at the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix got their start at the Macau Grand Prix. And of course, Monaco and Macao are synonymous with gambling. 

The similarities are not lost on Frédéric Genta, who is the principality’s “secretary for attractiveness, development and digital transformation.” Trust Monaco to have a secretary for attractiveness – but in this case, the portfolio doesn’t involve making the Riviera playground more physically alluring than it already is. Instead, it’s about capturing investment.

[See more: The IMF says Macao’s GDP growth will fall to 9.6 percent in 2025]

Genta was in town recently at the invitation of Galaxy Entertainment Group, which has a stake in Monaco’s casino company, the Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer, and is hoping to raise Monaco’s profile among Chinese investors. At the Raffles hotel in the Galaxy resort in Cotai, he spoke to Macao News about the synergies between his home and the SAR.

Your father was the renowned horologist Gerald Genta. How has his legacy shaped you?

My dad was really an artist, his watches are timeless pieces of art. Something he taught me is the capacity to understand a context and to be radically creative. There’s something great in radicality and change. You can never justify the status quo.

The way my father built his watches was very disruptive at the time, you’ll find that timepieces created 60 or 70 years ago still look super modern today. I’ve always tried to go a lot farther than others would, because of my dad.

You used to work at Google. What did that teach you?

Better done than perfect.

What can Monaco and Macao learn from each other? 

I was extremely impressed by the capacity of Galaxy to scale operations, they’re now building phase four of the resort and it’s still super consistent, fully integrated. Their way of scaling operations while keeping excellence is truly inspiring. I think we can learn a lot from them.

I think we can also learn from the level of ambition Macao in general – and the Galaxy group in particular have shown – they’re always going for more. 

[See more: Macao is hoping to attract more international travellers with new incentives]

At the same time, what Macao could learn from Monaco is the capacity of a strong brand identity. Monaco has been a resort for 150 years and the capacity to generate this feel of glamour and prestige is, maybe, something Macao could learn from us. 

There’s a lot we could do together. I had the pleasure of meeting Macao’s justice secretary [Cheong Weng Chon] and he shared really good insights. He told us we should collaborate and to make Monaco the base of Asian culture in Europe and especially the base of Greater Bay Area culture in Europe.

Macao should be the base to our Latin slash Monégasque culture in Asia.

What are some of the synergies between the two places?

Culture, sports and tourism. When Asian people want to travel to Europe they should first think of Monaco, there should be a way to market Monaco. Also, there should be special exchange deals offered to GEG’s top clients and Monaco’s top clients. If one of our clients wants to travel to Asia, we ought to make sure that it benefits one of our partners and vice-versa. 

[See more: ​​This is what Western tourists really think about Macao]

Then, gambling. We should definitely have some of the most popular games here featured at our tables, especially baccarat, which we call punto banco in Monaco. I’ve learned that it’s a very big deal here. At the same time, to export some of our games to Macao. 

Last but not least, we could use this partnership for training part of our staff in Asian culture.

One of Macao’s main objectives is to reduce the city’s reliance on gambling. How has Monaco managed to diversify its economy?

Monaco’s first GDP provider is real estate, which represents 20 percent of our GDP, followed by wealth management and finance at 17 percent. Then it’s tourism and digital technologies. Real estate has been the major contributor, but for sure we have to further diversify our economy because we don’t have much land. 

[See more: This is the one thing Macao must do if it wants to diversify away from gaming]

We’re definitely looking for non-material growth, which means digital and finance. Part of my job is to grow our digital economy and that’s super important. We’re trying to expand both the scope of wealth management by adding new services, new tech by offering more private equities and venture capital on top of just classic asset management. We’re moving more and more to alternative investment. 

Macao is very keen on digital transformation. How has that benefitted Monaco? 

We use digital to solve concrete problems. We use it a lot in education, both to learn coding and provide a fully digitalised learning experience for students from elementary up, and, especially, to customise the learning experience as every child is different.

We also use digital to optimise public transportation and provide users with useful information. We have a sovereign cloud, 5G network. We were the first country in Europe to launch it. We have a digital identity card which enables residents to handle everything they may need online. 

[See more: How will Macao power its ‘smart city’ aspirations?]

We want digital to make life faster and to give people better service, better security and better education. Better services generate better profits and decrease costs because you can have humans involved in what really matters, which are human-to-human relationships, not just processes.

You’re interested in Chinese investment. Can Macao play a role in this?

Macao should be – and we really hope we can move forward with this – using more of the Monaco brands, because it’s good business for the city, especially Galaxy. 

We would really like Chinese and GBA entrepreneurs and leaders to put Monaco on top of their list when they think of expanding their businesses to Europe. 

What opportunities are there for Monaco in the GBA?

To showcase Monaco’s culture – ballet, football, the philharmonic orchestra and opera – its investment opportunities in real estate and finance in the region, tourism and lifestyle. 

I would love our leaders and investors to come here too. This is where the growth is happening in the world. 

Monaco and Macao are famed for their motorsports. How can these events contribute to building a destination’s brand? 

I was amazed by the capacity of Netflix to revive driving cars because driving cars have not been so popular, for different reasons. I think Macao should benefit [from this revival] because they’re masters of branding. For me it’s all about going backstage and providing the audience with engagement opportunities. I hope they can get Formula 1 in Macao one day. 

UPDATED: 23 Apr 2024, 4:02 pm

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