Casino Operator NagaCorp’s Founder Chen Lip Keong Dead at 76

Posted on: December 11, 2023, 02:57h. 

Last updated on: December 12, 2023, 01:36h.

Malaysian billionaire tycoon and the founder of gaming empire NagaCorp, Dr. Chen Lip Keong, has passed away. The man behind Cambodia’s NagaWorld integrated resort complex had spent the past almost three decades building his portfolio from the ground up.

NagaCorp founder Chen Lip Keong stands behind a baccarat table at NagaWorld
NagaCorp founder Chen Lip Keong stands behind a baccarat table at NagaWorld. He died on Friday in the U.S. (Image: Forbes)

NagaCorp’s board of directors confirmed the passing in a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKSE) today, adding that he passed away on December 8. Reports from the Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau on Sunday had said that Chen died while in the US.

Neither the media outlet nor the board reported the exact cause of death. Chen, reportedly the seventh-richest man in Malaysia, suffered a stroke over a decade ago. However, it wasn’t specified if his passing was linked to this, or some other condition.

Maintaining the Status Quo

Chen’s body is reportedly still in the US, awaiting specific procedures before returning to Malaysia. It’s likely clearance will be given in the next few days.

The board also disclosed that one of Chen’s sons, Chen Yiy Fon, will take over the business. He was previously the CEO of Operations at NagaCorp, and will now be the head of the group of companies his father built, effective December 10.

Yiy Fon had been serving as the CEO of Operations since April 5, 2022. At the time, in a move designed to ease the transition of power, the late NagaCorp founder had divided control of the company among his three sons. Yiy Fon became CEO of Operations, Chen Cherchi became CEO – Finance and Treasury and Chen Yiy Hwuan took the title of CEO – Hotels.

NagaCorp affirmed its commitment to sustaining business operations in line with the board’s strategies. It didn’t provide any details, however, on whether Chen’s passing will alter the course of the long-running workers strike at NagaWorld.

NagaCorp has a license to operate NagaWorld that includes a 51-year monopoly covering an area of 120 miles around Phnom Penh. The license is valid until 2065 and the monopoly is active until 2045.

NagaCorp Stock Tumbles

The board is confident that Chen’s demise will not materially impact the group’s operations. However, investors responded to the news negatively.

Trading on the HKSE’s equities market, NagaCorp had been experiencing declines since the beginning of the year. Its highest price was on January 27, when it reached HKD7.678 (US$0.98). Since then, it has steadily dropped and hit its lowest point of the year, HKD3.29 (US$0.42) on November 1.

However, since the middle of November, it began to experience some recovery. It rebounded to HKD3.92 (US$0.50) on November 23 before falling back into the downward trend.

The stock has lost 15% in the past five days and 56.58% since the beginning of the year. As of this writing, it’s down to HKD2.96 (US$0.36).