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Malaysian Casino Billionaire Cashes In On Tourism Rebound

June 5, 2023 Malaysia Earnings & Filings

NagaCorp founder Chen Lip Keong is ratcheting up succession plans for his casino company as business rebounds from the pandemic. The casino tycoon became senior CEO last year under a C-suite regrouping at the Hong Kong-listed company that saw his three sons become joint CEOs.

In a regulatory filing, NagaCorp described the appointments as an “injection of new vitality” after more than two decades of growth under Chen, who will continue to lead the group and oversee day-to-day operations. His eldest son, Chen Yiy Hwuan, 42, will become CEO of hotels, Chen Yiy Fon, 41, (a board member since 2015) CEO of operations and Chen Cherchi, 34, CEO of finance and treasury.

To bolster the transition strategy, Chen transferred a controlling interest in NagaCorp, where he is also executive director, to a family trust last July. The Cambodia-based company, which has a long-life casino monopoly in Phnom Penh where it runs integrated resort NagaWorld, returned to the black in 2022 on a post-Covid bump in tourist arrivals. It posted a net profit of nearly $107.3 million, compared with a net loss of $147 million a year earlier, as revenue doubled to $460.7 million over that period. While he remained No. 7 on the list of Malaysia’s 50 richest, he saw an uptick in his net worth to $2.8 billion.

In March, ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service placed NagaCorp under review as the company looks to refinance $472 million in debt due in 2024. Meanwhile a workers’ strike continued into this year after thousands walked off their jobs at the casino in December 2021 over their demands for better working conditions and higher pay. The company did not respond to requests for comment.


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