VinaCapital partners-up on new South Hoi An deal

After over two years of searching, Vietnam-focused asset management firm VinaCapital has finally found prestigious partners including Macau-based SunCity Group and Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd to replace Malaysia’s Genting Group for their proposed US$4 billion integrated casino resort in Quang Nam province.

A source at the Chu Lai Economic Zone Authority, Quang Nam, said the provincial committee would issue an amended investment certificate for this project, officially recognizing SunCity Group and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises as stakeholders working in conjunction with VinaCapital.

The Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises is engaged in property development, hotels, casinos, transportation, and jewelry. Meanwhile, the SunCity Group is a casino operator at the world’s largest casino hub Macau.

“They completed the deal and are ready to resume this long-delayed project,” said the local source.

However, as yet, the details of SunCity and Chow Tai Fook’s role in the project have not been revealed. If the investors receive a new investment certificate this week and resume construction on the project in the coming months it will confirm a statement made by Don Lam-co-founder and CEO of VinaCapital-to the media last October in which he stated that construction on the development would begin in mid-2015.

South Hoi An is the largest tourism property project in the popular holiday destination of Quang Nam, already home to several luxury coastal resorts.

The project was initially developed by VinaCapital and Genting Malaysia Berhad and was intended to include five-star hotels, villas, and gambling facilities.

But in September 2012 Genting suddenly announced its withdrawal from the project during site clearance work, forcing VinaCapital to find other partners to jointly develop the project.

To make the project more attractive, VinaCapital proposed the local authorities reduce the site to 1,000 hectares from 1,538 hectares. The developer also asked permission to extend the project’s lifetime to 50 years.

In addition, the developers also asked for permission to expand the scale of the gaming facility in the project. Specifically, they want 90 gaming tables in the first phase of the project, a 20-table increase on the current investment certificate, and a number equal to those provided at Ho Tram Strip in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province.

Over the past two years, VinaCapital has tried to find partners that have casino industry experience. US-backed Peninsula Pacific expressed interest in the project at one point, but eventually withdrew. As such, the completed deal with SunCity Group and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises comes as some relief to VinaCapital.

“We expect the new investors can push the development forward because both of them are experienced industry players,” said the source at Chu Lai Economic Zone Authority.