A former adviser to the government in Beijing will soon head Sands China Ltd.’s operations.
Wilfred Wong, an ex-member of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China, has been appointed as the company’s new president and chief executive officer effective Nov. 1, the casino operator announced on Tuesday.
He will replace Rob Goldstein, who has been serving as Sands China’s interim president since earlier this year.
Prior to joining the gambling industry, Wong has held roles in the public sector as well as in the property development and construction business sectors. He was the chief executive officer of the Hong Kong-listed Hsin Chong Construction Group and has also held management positions in K. Wah International Holdings Limited, Henderson China Holdings Limited and the Shui On Group.
“We reached outside the gaming industry to find an executive who is highly educated, distinguished, and ethical,” Goldstein said in a statement. “Wilfred’s successful career in business and public service is going to provide the company with a different set of perspectives, insights and approaches that will be valuable to Sands China in the future.”
“Wilfred has a unique combination of private and public sector experience we think will be invaluable to the company at this point in our history,” Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson said in a statement. “As president of Sands China, Wilfred will be able to put his experience to work helping us cart a path for our next decade of success in Macau.”
Adelson, who took over as CEO of Sands China earlier this year, said the company is looking for an executive “who has dealt with officials in Beijing” to head their Macau operations, according to Macau Daily Times.
Wong has served in various levels of the Hong Kong government. He was a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Consultative Committee, a member of the Preliminary Working Committee as well as the Preparatory Committee responsible for establishing the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Wong was also elected a member of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China from 1997 to 2012.
Union Gaming Group analyst Grant Govertsen told Bloomberg he suspects that “having an influential Chinese person at the helm of the ship would be a distinct positive as it relates to concession renewal, not to mention any other approvals along the way.”
Sands China, which has fallen prey to Macau’s doldrums, plans to draw more mainland Chinese tourists with the opening of its $2.7 billion Parisian Macao resort casino in 2016. The drop in VIP gamblers caused Sands China’s second quarter revenue to drop 25.6 percent to $1.77 billion, while adjusted earnings fell 29.5 percent to $564.5 million and profit fell 37.3 percent to $388.7 million.