Macau shutdown empties streets and hurts casino stocks

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The streets of Macau were empty and shares of Las Vegas companies operating in the Chinese gambling enclave fell dramatically as the region suffered its second full day of a week-long government-mandated city shutdown.

Businesses, including casinos, are expected to remain closed until July 18 due to coronavirus concerns.

Residents have been asked to stay indoors unless they are shopping for food or other necessities. Authorities have warned that anyone violating the rules will be punished, the Associated Press reported.

Casinos were ordered over the weekend to close for at least a week as the number of coronavirus cases in the territory of 700,000 rose. On Monday, the government reported 59 new cases, bringing the total from the last outbreak to 1,526.

Macao and Hong Kong are emulating the mainland’s “zero COVID” strategy which aims to isolate every infected person. Around 500 people are believed to be confined to the resort town of Grand Lisboa on the Macau Peninsula.

The public is required to register for passes to use buses and other public transport, which operate at reduced capacity, said a resident who asked to be identified only by his surname, Kong.

The Macau government order marks the first time since February 2020 at the start of the pandemic that casinos have been shut down altogether, reflecting the official urgency to contain the latest outbreak. Restrictions imposed in June limited their numbers to 10% of normal levels.

The government says it plans to test everyone in the city for the virus over the coming week. Bus drivers, food delivery people and a few others have been told to get tested every day.

The inactivity of the city’s 41 casinos, including six for market leader Las Vegas Sands Corp., three for Wynn Resorts Ltd. and two for MGM Resorts International, caused shares in the Hong Kong and US markets to fall as much as 8 percent.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands, trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday, closed down $2.17, 6.3%, at $32.31 per share on volume nearly double the daily average.

Shares of Wynn Resorts, traded on the Nasdaq stock exchange, fell $3.65, 6.5%, to $52.81 per share on volume nearly three times the daily average.

MGM shares, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, fell 94 cents, 3.2%, to $28.40 per share on volume just below the daily average.

Stocks did not perform much better on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Las Vegas Sands affiliate Sands China Ltd. fell $1.52, 8.15%, to $17.14 at Monday’s close.

Wynn Macau Ltd., an affiliate of Wynn Resorts, fell $0.35, 6.7%, to $4.89.

MGM-affiliated MGM China Holdings Ltd. fell $0.23, 5.4%, to $4.06.

Sands filed a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday detailing an unsecured term loan agreement with Sands China Ltd. for 1 billion dollars (US).

Under the terms of the loan, repayable by July 11, 2028, “during the first two years from July 11, 2022, Sands China Ltd. will have the option of choosing to pay interest in cash at 5% per annum or payment in kind. interest at 6% per annum by adding the amount of such interest to the then outstanding principal amount of the SCL Subordinated Loan, after which only cash interest at 5% per annum will be payable.

The SCL Subordinated Loan is prepayable by SCL in whole or in part at any time without penalty.

Sands provided no further information about the loan. MGM and Wynn said Sunday they would have no further comment.

The Review-Journal is owned by the Adelson family, including Dr. Miriam Adelson, majority shareholder of Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Patrick Dumont, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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