“Significant doubt” over junket operator Amax Holdings’ ability to carry on

TAGs: Amax Holdings, broken tooth, francis tam, junket operators, junkets, Macau, wan kuok-koi

amax-holdings-drowningTroubled Macau junket operator Amax Holdings has admitted it has “significant doubt about the group’s ability to continue as a going concern.” The admission came in the Hong Kong-listed company’s annual report, which revealed a loss of HKD 39.4m (US $5m) for the 12 months ending March 31, 2013. As of that date, Amax’s liabilities exceeded its assets by a little less than HKD 31m ($4m). Amax says it’s implementing cost-cutting measures, “actively collecting outstanding debts due from an associate and other debtors” and negotiating new credit lines with banks in a bid to keep the boat afloat until the situation improves.

Amax’s fortunes faded fast last year after Macau casino concessionaire SJM Holdings decided to reallocate 40 gaming tables from the New Century Hotel’s Greek Mythology Casino – in which Amax held a nearly 25% stake – to another SJM property. Amax’s struggles to replace this lost revenue stream led to last month’s announcement that Amax intends to operate a casino in the Turkish half of the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Amax has therefore proposed rebranding itself as Amax International Holdings to “more appropriately describe the version and business landscape of the group.” However, Amax cops to the fact that it wouldn’t hurt to “refresh the corporate image.”

Meanwhile, Macau officials say Amax boss Ng Man Sun’s former rival, Wan ‘Broken Tooth’ Kuok-koi, won’t be treated any differently than any other individual seeking to operate in Macau’s junket operations. Wan, who was released from prison in December after serving nearly 15 years for triad activities, recently stated his intention to resume his VIP gaming activities in Macau, which prompted concerns over how someone with such a colorful past could so easily reintegrate himself into the world’s largest casino market.

In response to the Broken Tooth kerfuffle, Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam told Macau Business Daily that if Wan was “preparing to be engaging in the gaming promotions business,” his application would be subject to the same suitability checks as any other applicant. As for the alleged loopholes surrounding the unspecified and thus unregulated definitions of “VIP promoters” or “VIP operators” under which Wan might choose to classify his new role, Tam said there were no plans currently afoot to rework the regulatory definitions, but suggested Macau might find cause to “examine our existing regulations” at some future date.


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