Sands China believes the current slowdown in construction activity caused by the coronavirus outbreak will have no major impact on its redevelopment of Sands Cotai Central into The Londoner, and the project remains “on schedule”.
The company’s president, Wilfred Wong, said Sands China was not hesitating at all in resuming its investment activities in Macau, despite the recent 15-day shutdown and the current loss of business caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
“Sands China will always continue to invest in Macau, as we are a company committed to the SAR,” he said. “Macau has always been a resilient city, and we have no doubt in the SAR’s continued growth and success, and we are privileged to be able to play a part in that.”
The most important project Sands is currently working on is The Londoner, a US$2.2 billion redevelopment project that will completely transform the Sands Cotai Central complex, including iconic images of London such as Big Ben and Westminster. Doubts had been raised among analysts about its construction timeline due to the outbreak, especially after a note was put out by Morningstar analyst Chelsea Tam, quoted by Asian Gaming Brief, saying the project was among many in Cotai that would likely be delayed.
“As regards our Londoner project, we plan to proceed forward according to the original project timeline and we remain very confident in the project and in the future of Macau,” said Dr. Wong. “Fortunately for us, we have already established sound, long-term relationships with our business partners throughout these many years, and the project remains on schedule, including in terms of both manpower and materials. We are indeed very positive and confident about the successful completion of our project.”
There is no single date set for the project to open. The company confirmed, however, that it “will open progressively over 2020 and 2021”.
Dr. Wong also elaborated on recent measures taken by the company to ensure its staff were well taken care of amid the outbreak. “As for the current situation of our team members, they are all being well taken care of, and we continue to maintain a series of preventive and precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of all. Our team member dining services remain open non-stop for our on-site team members, and we are providing shuttle and laundry services as well.
“For our non-resident team members, we continue to be in compliance with all government guidelines and we are pleased to be able to provide them with accommodation at our properties in the interest of safeguarding the health of our team members and the city during this time of heightened vigilance and necessary restrictions in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.”
Dr. Wong went on to extend his assurances to the company’s local SME partners. “With the reopening of the casinos last week, we strongly believe the momentum of local purchases will gradually resume in line with the return of market demand. And with our company’s well-established Local Small, Medium and Micro Suppliers Support Programme, we will continue to focus on local SME purchases as one of our top procurement priorities.”
The outlook for a resumption to normal business levels might take some time, however. Dr. Wong said the company was hoping for full recovery probably only in the second half of the year. “Looking ahead, based on the current situation in Macau and in the region, we expect to see things getting back to normal probably in the second half of the year, when travel restrictions and fear among tourists subside. Macau will certainly recover from this, just as it has recovered from challenges in the past.”