Saipan casino operator Imperial Pacific International Holdings (IPI) has welcomed new senior management as it fends off fresh calls for the imposition of a gaming revenue tax.
On Wednesday, the Saipan Tribune reported that IPI had appointed Marco Teng as the new chairman of its board of directors, while Henry Cheang has been named IPI’s new CEO.
According to the Tribune report, Teng will assume oversight and supervision of IPI’s hotel operations, while Cheang – a 12-year casino veteran with stints at multiple Macau operators – will oversee gaming operations.
Both of these senior roles were previously filled by Mark Brown, who switched from IPI’s CEO to the chairman’s seat in January 2017, but who resigned as chairman on December 20. The CEO role had been assumed by IPI’s chief operating officer Kwong Yiu Ling.
IPI has yet to formally alert the Hong Kong Stock Exchange regarding these new appointments, but Teng’s appointment was reportedly effective January 10, while Cheang’s new job dates back to August 1, 2017. IPI has a history of slow-rolling announcements of this type, as Brown’s resignation as chairman went unmentioned for nearly three weeks.
In other IPI news, the company has inked a new contractor to ensure it meets construction deadlines on its new Imperial Pacific Resort. IPI has hired Guam-based contractor Pacific Rim Constructors after falling out with former contractor MCC International, which was found to have employed a significant number of illegal aliens.
Despite construction having been paused for six months, IPI execs told the Commonwealth Casino Commission (CCC) on Tuesday that they were confident of having a minimum of 250 hotel rooms available at Imperial Palace by the stipulated August 2018 deadline.
CCC vice chair Joseph Reyes expressed skepticism of IPI’s ability to meet the deadline, saying IPI was still only up to the second floor of its hotel. Reyes urged IPI to get a move on, because “nobody wants to see the building like that. It’s an eyesore.”
Meanwhile, more Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) legislators are advocating the imposition of a gaming revenue tax on IPI’s operations. The deal IPI has with the CNMI calls for the company to pay a variety of business taxes, but its gaming revenue isn’t part of this plan.
On Wednesday, CNMI Rep. Ed Propst publicly urged for a “decent” 3% tax on IPI’s gaming revenue, with the proceeds to fund healthcare for CNMI residents. Propst noted that there was “nothing wrong with establishing an adequate and simple gaming tax … it is something we could change. We have a lot of missed opportunities because of that.”