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NagaCorp looking to Siem Reap, Sihanoukville

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NagaCorp is currently developing its $4 billion Naga 3 project on the site of the former ‘White Building’ in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune. Heng Chivoan

NagaCorp looking to Siem Reap, Sihanoukville

Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp Ltd, the parent company of local casino operator NagaWorld Ltd, has expressed an interest in developing integrated resorts (IRs) in areas of Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces.

Asia-focused casino industry news outlet GGRAsia reported this on Friday, citing the company’s interim first-half results filed to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX).

The industry term IR is used to describe a large-scale resort complex that comprise tourism and conference amenities and often feature casinos and other gaming facilities.

GGRAsia quoted NagaCorp as saying: “It is the intention of the group to be perceived as a more comprehensive and quality integrated resort developer with emphasis also on non-gaming as a source of revenue.

“We anticipate that the non-gaming and gaming IRs will co-exist with each other in a mutually beneficial manner.

“It is the intention of the group to explore viable and profitable IR development in [the] Siem Reap and Sihanoukville areas.

“At that point of time, we believe that the group will gain a foothold as a strategic, sizable and comprehensive world-class IR developer to help promote tourism in the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

Siem Reap town is home to UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat in Nokor Thom commune, just 6km north of the provincial capital’s downtown area. It was the quintessential destination for international visitors to the Kingdom prior to Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Preah Sihanouk’s coastal provincial capital of Sihanoukville has seen a massive expansion in the last few years, largely driven by Chinese investment in the real estate sector.

Till the government’s ban on all online gambling last year, many of the projects had been linked to gaming.

Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Financial Industry, told The Post on Monday that he was unaware of NagaCorp’s ambitions, but called on it to go through the proper legal channels.

“I know nothing about it, nor do I know what point of reference they are coming from, but our laws bar casinos from Siem Reap’s Angkor area.

“On the other hand, if the company wants to develop a [non-casino] IR business, it will have to apply for a licence from the Ministry of Tourism,” he said.

Tourism ministry spokesman Top Sopheak was also unaware of the plan, but said the ministry was keen on IR investments in Siem Reap province.

“I hadn’t been briefed on this particular matter, but anyone who wishes to open a resort with press conference hall must register with the Ministry of Commerce before applying for a licence at the Ministry of Tourism,” he said.

NagaCorp owns Phnom Penh’s only licensed casino, NagaWorld, and is currently developing its $4 billion Naga 3 project on the site of the former “White Building” in Chamkarmon district’s Tonle Bassac commune.

It posted just over $20.6 million in net profit for the first half of this year, plunging 91.6 per cent year-on-year. Revenue tumbled 57.7 per cent year-on-year to $377.5 million.

On the HKEX, NagaCorp’s (3918:HK) share price inched up HK$0.07 (0.9 US cents) or 0.75 per cent to close at HK$9.37 (US$1.21) on Monday for a market capitalisation of HK$40.979 billion, with 8.884 million shares traded.

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