Wynn Macau Says WeChat Ban Could Have Adverse Impact, Trims Daily Operating Costs to $2 Million

Posted on: August 19, 2020, 01:10h. 

Last updated on: August 19, 2020, 02:11h.

In a filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Wynn Macau tells investors increasing geopolitical tensions between the US and China, including the Trump Administration’s recent ban of the popular Chinese messaging app WeChat, could hamper the gaming company’s business.

Wynn Macau Cites WeChat Ban
Wynn Palace (seen here) and Wynn Macau could suffer if US/China hostilities escalate, according to the gaming company. (Image: Macau News)

The operator of Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace notes in the filing that hostilities between the world’s two largest economies are on the rise this year, and many of its customers use WeChat as a form of communication. The app, often viewed as the Chinese equivalent of Facebook’s Messenger or WhatsApp platforms, has over one billion users around the world, many of whom reside in China.

We are unable to ascertain the scope of the ban at this point, and there is no assurance that the ban will not adversely affect our ability to communicate with certain of our customers,” said Wynn Macau in the filing.

When the White House’s ban on the messaging app was revealed earlier this month, analysts speculated it would be a negative for gaming companies because operators like Wynn use the platform to market to customers.

The three US-based concessionaires operating in Macau — Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn — are potentially vulnerable to lost business, owing to the WeChat controversy. That’s because Chinese gamblers and travelers could view the ploy as a hostile act by the US and favor Asia-based companies as a result.

Rough Timing

In the filing, Wynn Macau noted it trimmed its daily operating expenses in the world’s largest casino center to $2 million a day in July, down from $2.5 million per day earlier this year.

Still, the timing of the operator’s comments on the deteriorating US/China relationship is tough, because it comes just as things are starting to look up for Macau’s gaming-dependent economy. Next week, Guangdong province will resume issuance of tourist visas for visits to the special administrative region (SAR), with the rest of mainland China slated to do the same on Sept. 23.

Resumption of the individual visit scheme (IVS) visa program has analysts saying it’s possible Macau operators break even in the fourth quarter. That adds credibility to the thesis that the SAR will rebound faster than Las Vegas or Singapore.

However, Wynn Macau warns that if tensions escalate between the US and China, the latter’s economy could be negatively affected, and those adverse impacts could trickle down to Macau’s gaming business.

“Our business and prospects may be negatively impacted by the fact that we are majority owned by a US company, should the US-China relationship further deteriorate,” said Wynn in the filing.

Debt Mounts

Obviously, the WeChat ban and its potential impact on Wynn Macau’s business is the issue catching investors’ attention. But there are other notable financial details in the filing.

The operator is issuing $850 million in new debt, with $600 million worth of notes coming due in 2028 and a $250 million addition to an issue maturing in 2026.

Moody’s Investors Service assigned a junk rating of “B1” rating to the new issue but called it credit positive because it bolsters the gaming company’s funding flexibility.