Fri, 25 June 2021

By Haslinda Amin, Yantoultra Ngui and Kyunghee Park

(Bloomberg) — Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group is seeing consumer confidence return in the U.S. as vaccinations roll out and Covid-19 cases and deaths decline, Chairman Lim Kok Thay said.

Genting, whose businesses range from plantations to cruise ships, opened Resorts World Las Vegas on Thursday, the biggest new property on the city’s Strip in more than a decade.

In the last three years, China has “grown tremendously from almost nothing” to become the main source market for the company, said Lim.

“There’s unmet demand as people had stayed home for so long, and now the increase in vaccination and falling cases have given consumers the confidence to spend again,” Lim said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Friday. The group is “super confident” on its projects in the U.S. and would look to list the business when the numbers pick up and investor confidence returns, he said.

The US$4.3 billion property in Las Vegas is a shot in the arm for America’s gambling capital, which was closed for three months last year due to the coronavirus, and where visitor numbers in April were stuck 27% below the same month in 2019. It is also a milestone for Genting, which has had mixed luck with some of its other casino projects in the U.S.

“The large investment was made sometime ago when we acquired what we see as the best piece of real estate on the LA boulevard, and when the economy slowed and Covid hit, we were fortunate we didn’t have to pause our construction work,” Lim said. “Now as we are coming out it we are very well placed.”

Other highlights from the interview:

  • Tourism numbers for Los Angeles are looking “very positive;” the resort is “solidly booked” for July 4 public holiday at average rates not seen before the pandemic
  • Genting considering bidding for digital banking permit in Malaysia
  • Genting remains “cautious” on Asian gaming market
  • Genting’s investments in biotechnology, life sciences are showing during current pandemic
  • Genting’s Hong Kong business is being restructured and the company hopes to make an announcement soon