SJM has “good faith” despite external economic factors

Thursday, October 9, 2008
Issue 491, Page 4
Word count: 493
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) is confident about its development prospects and will not cut any of its staff members because of the shrinking global economy, said director Dr Ambrose So yesterday.

Speaking to the media at the SJM cocktail reception to celebrate the Chinese National Day at the Macau Tower, Dr Ambrose So said the company’s future would remain “strong and fundamental despite the decrease in Macau’s gaming revenue as a whole in September”.

“By adopting effective measures to cut costs and generate more revenue, we will be on a very solid ground to move on and SJM can retain its position of dominating 27 percent of the total market share,” the SJM director added.

Although mainland China had toughened the Individual Visit Scheme, Dr So said none of their employees would be sacked, and instead a number of them would be allocated to work on SJM’s new development projects.

He also pointed out that SJM’s retirement scheme did not restrict staff to resign at the age of retirement but allowed them “to request to remain working in the company depending on their health condition”.

“SJM’s financial status is sound and stable as we aren’t like the other gaming operators which have huge projects needed to be complete and also have to solve problems arising from financing,” Dr So said.

However, the director admitted that it would be “difficult times ahead” in the view of “the global financial market and the overall consumer behaviour”.

“But gambling itself isn’t a discretionary spending. In Las Vegas it’s most hardly hit by the consumer area as 70 percent of its revenue come from consumer expenditure whilst 30 percent from gambling,” he said.

“Likewise in Macau which is a sino-centric market and relies mainly on gambling, I think impacts in the gaming industry will be limited and not be as significant as those in the consumer sector,” he added.

On the other hand, the SAR government announced last week restrictions to curb the growth of three types of non-local labourers including casinos’ pit supervisors.

Dr So said he did not expect any impact with this measure on SJM as the company “has the highest percentage of local employees in the market”.

Meanwhile, managing director Dr Stanley Ho also said yesterday that due to “the external effects of the economic downturn”, SJM would “suspend certain development projects”, but added that “some will continue to move on and no employees will be sacked”.

When asked about the Four Seasons Hotel’s attempt to sell its top-floor rooms as residential units, Dr Ho said he “resolutely opposed” such a decision as the concession contract stated that “gaming operators are forbidden to be involved in other kinds of businesses in Macau”.

In addition, Dr Ambrose So said yesterday a full operational license for Hotel Grand Lisboa was expected to be given by the end of this year as “there are still certain details left to be discussed with the authorities.”

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