Summit Ascent Seeking New Markets, Capping Investment on Russia Casino

Posted on: August 30, 2020, 12:04h. 

Last updated on: August 31, 2020, 07:56h.

Hong Kong-listed Summit Ascent Holdings revealed in a financial update last week that it plans to cap its investment on Tigre de Cristal in Russia’s Far East, and instead seek new integrated resort markets.

Summit Ascent Tigre de Cristal Russia
Summit Ascent, the parent company to Tigre de Cristal in Russia, will conclude its investment in the casino property with its second and final phase. (Image: Go Nakamura/Getty)

Summit says phase two construction on Tigre in Vladivostok’s Primorye gaming zone will commence in the fourth quarter of 2020. The $200 million project will double the number of VIP and mass gaming tables and slots machines and add more than 120 hotel guestrooms and suites. Four new restaurants and bars are in the works, as is an indoor beach club and spa.

Tigre de Cristal is currently the only casino resort in what Russia had hoped would become its version of the Las Vegas Strip. Presently, it has 300 slot machines and 40 table games, 121 hotel rooms, five restaurants and bars, a virtual golf zone, karaoke rooms, and a “high-end diamond and luxury watch boutique.”

But Summit says when the second phase of Tigre is completed, expected to open in 2022, that will be all she wrote for the integrated resort in terms of expansion. And that’s due to Summit Ascent’s largest investor.

Sun Goes Down on Far East

Melco Resorts founder and CEO Lawrence Ho envisioned the Tigre de Cristal. It opened in October of 2015, but after a disappointing first two years — largely because of limited visitors traveling to the remote region — the billionaire Ho sold off his entire stake.

Another billionaire has since stepped in: Suncity Group founder Alvin Chua. The man who made his fortune leading the premiere Macau VIP junket group controls a nearly 25 percent position in Summit Ascent. That will increase to nearly 70 percent once the $160 million transaction in underwritten shares Chua snagged in June is completed.

Chua says it’s time for Summit to play a hand elsewhere other than only in Russia, presently the company’s lone integrated resort.

Summit Ascent says that instead of planning a third Tigre phase in the financial update, it will invest in SunTrust Home Developers — a subsidiary of Suncity’s Philippines-listed entity that is developing an $800 million integrated resort casino at Westside City Resorts World in Manila’s Entertainment City.

“While the Directors remain cautiously optimistic about the long-term prospects of Tigre de Cristal in the Russian Federation, they are of the view that it is in the best interests of the Company to diversify its assets and revenue streams in order to reduce the Group’s reliance on a single revenue source and location,” the company declared.

Good Competition

Summit Ascent believes its phase two investment is still warranted, as the company believes more travelers will make the trek to the Far East once additional casino resorts open and there are more excitement and energy regarding the region.

The Phase II development of Tigre de Cristal will place the Group in a better position to attract and retain customers, especially when other casino operators in the IEZ [Integrated Entertainment Zone] Primorye open for business in the near future,” the company concluded.

The $111.5 million Shambala Casino is set to open in the coming months. NagaCorp billionaire Chen Lip Keong says he, too, remains committed to building a NagaWorld casino complex on the Primorye strip.