Galaxy’s founder talks global expansion
Galaxy Entertainment Group Chairman Lui Che Woo has set his sights on casino acquisitions in the US and is looking to invest in a big way on Hengqin Island as he maps his gaming empire’s expansion beyond Macau.
The 84-year-old construction magnate, reputed to be the richest person in Asia after Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka Shing, has about US$10 billion on the table in Macau, where the company’s flagship, the 2,000- room Galaxy Macau on Cotai, is expanding with $2.5 billion worth of new hotel and gaming space and non-gaming attractions slated to open next year.
Bloomberg Billionaires Index pegs Mr Lui’s net worth at US$23 billion, anchored by his family’s 51% stake in GEG, whose Hong Kong-listed stock more than doubled in price last year.
The company’s Cotai land bank is the largest in the market at an estimated 2 million square meters, which would permit a quadrupling of the size of Galaxy Macau by 2018; more than $7 billion has been earmarked for that purpose.
Looking across Cotai at neighboring Hengqin, Mr Lui told Bloomberg News he might plow upwards of $1.3 billion into nongaming hotels and sports-related facilities there.
“We don’t miss out on great opportunities,” he said. “We’d love to expand, especially after our resorts have proved to be successful.”
That could include casinos in the US to add to the six the company operates in Macau, he said. His holdings already include 13 US hotels, seven Hiltons among them.
Japan and Taiwan also figure prominently on Galaxy’s radar. Mr Lui’s eldest son, Francis, who runs the gaming side as deputy chairman, has said the company is prepared to invest at least $2.6 billion in resort casinos in each of those markets.
Mr Lui, who never finished high school, said he plans to set up a charity foundation to fund schools and universities in China. He has funded scholarships, teaching and research centers at universities in Hong Kong and China, including Fudan University in Shanghai, Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Macau. In 2005, he pledged HK$45 million (US$5.7 million) to help build and renovate 150 primary schools on the mainland.
“What can I do if I retire, watch the sun rise and set?” he told Bloomberg. “I want to do something meaningful. I don’t want to just sit there waiting to die.”