Asian junket operator, Suncity Group Holdings Limited, has reportedly announced the completion of a deal that has seen it pay approximately $91.5 million in order to acquire a controlling stake in Russian casino operator Summit Ascent Holdings Limited.

Increasing interest:

According to a report from GGRAsia, the Hong Kong-listed junket firm via its Victor Sky Holdings Limited subsidiary previously held around 3.29% of the shares in Summit while this latest deal for a further 24.68% stake has seen its combined interest rocket to 27.97%.

Casino concern:

Listed on the Hong Kong bourse, Summit is the firm behind the 121-room Tigre de Cristal Casino and Resort, which is located in Russia’s casino-friendly Primorye Integrated Entertainment Resort zone. This $175 million facility opened some 31 miles north of the port city of Vladivostok in 2015 and features a large casino complete with in excess of 760 slots alongside almost 70 gaming tables.

Wandering stake:

GGRAsia reported that Summit Ascent Holdings was until last year controlled by the man now behind Macau casino giant Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung. However, the Hong Kong-based businessman completed a transaction in December of 2017 that saw him offload a large chunk of his shareholding to Taiwanese firm First Steamship Company Limited, which has now been acquired by Suncity.

Vladivostok visitors:

As for the reasoning behind the purchase, Suncity Group Holdings Limited used an official filing to declare that its Sun Travel Limited subordinate has recently seen a large uptick in the number of Chinese clients and that these ‘customers may want to visit destinations with gaming facilities.’ China shares a long border with Russia while Vladivostok is located only around two hours by plane from the giant cities of Beijing and Shanghai.

Reportedly read the Tuesday filing from Suncity…

“In 2017, nearly 1.8 million Chinese citizens travelled to Russia. The company aims to increase its investment in tourism-related property projects in regions other than China [and] the company believes that Russia is a favorable place for investment.”

Expansion plans:

Suncity, which is led by Macau-born billionaire, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, may now look to revitalize a plan that was to see Tigre de Cristal Casino and Resort expanded via the addition of two hotels as well as further dining and gaming areas.

Reportedly read the filing from Suncity Group…

“As the target group is going to develop Phase Two of the Tiger de Cristal [Casino and Resort] project, it is the right time for the company to increase its stake so that the company can have more influence on the development of Phase Two. The management team of the company has vast experience in development of integrated resorts with a casino.”