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Genting Malaysia (GENM, 4715) defends Empire stake buy, says it’s 'worthwhile investment'

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 15): Genting Malaysia Bhd (GenM) says its RM538 million related party transaction (RPT) in Empire Resorts Inc is deemed a “worthwhile investment”.

GenM said this in a filing today after Bursa Malaysia asked the gaming group to confirm or deny the contents of The Edge Financial Daily’s article on the RPT, published on Tuesday.

The group said Empire’s casino resort, Resorts World Catskills (RWC), located in Sullivan County, near New York City, is one of the newest and highest quality gaming assets in northeast US, with more than US$900 million invested.

“It is one of the closest gaming facilities to New York City offering live table games, including Baccarat and Blackjack,” the group said.

It added that RWC is part of development that includes the US$200 million Kartrite Resort, which the group described as “one of the most modern and state-of-the-art indoor waterpark developments” in the US, which boasts 324 new all-suite luxury rooms.

GenM added that it was in a unique position to take advantage of synergies between its existing Resorts World New York (RWNY) casino and RWC, thus providing the two casinos economies of scale, which will see costs reducing and earnings rising.

Furthermore, GenM said the group will be able to leverage the customer bases of both casinos to form a combined marketing approach that is expected to maximise gaming revenue while improving margins.

“RWC is in a favourable position to take advantage of the emerging Sports Wagering market in New York. Empire is opening an on-site sportsbook and is in a prime position in the eventuality of the enactment of mobile sports betting,” said GenM.

In addition, GenM said RWC has the opportunity to develop a video lottery facility in Orange County, New York, which is adjacent to Woodbury Commons — a premier outlet shopping mall.

“Successful execution of the proposed merger would place GenM in a position to more deeply access the New York market and provide both GenM and Empire the opportunity to compete more effectively in northeastern US region’s current competitive gaming landscape,” said GenM.

It added that the acquisition allows for Empire to complete its projects and embark “on a path to stability and growth for the benefit of all stakeholders”.

GenM bought a 46% stake in Empire from substantial shareholder and GenM chairman Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay for RM538 million, via Lim’s vehicle Kien Huat Realty III Ltd.

On Aug 9, Empire highlighted to shareholders via a filing on the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that it was mulling the option of filing for voluntary bankruptcy, thus making it easier to restructure its US$533.68 million pile of debt.

RWC’s revenue has not surpassed costs since its February 2018 opening, with Empire posting a US$73 million net loss for the six months ended June 30.

Shares in GenM closed four sen or 1.29% lower at RM3.07, valuing the group at RM18.23 billion.
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