Genting Singapore's RWS to embark on $400m expansion in second quarter

This first phase involves expanding Universal Studios Singapore and the SEA Aquarium, and refurbishing three hotels and the Resorts World Convention Centre. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Genting Singapore's $4.5 billion mega expansion of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) will start in the second quarter of this year, with an initial $400 million investment.

This first phase involves expanding Universal Studios Singapore and the SEA Aquarium, and refurbishing three hotels and the Resorts World Convention Centre in anticipation of a recovery in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Genting Singapore did not say when the entire project would be finished but told The Straits Times yesterday that the revamp of the two attractions will be completed by the end of 2024.

The revamp will start with the expansion of Universal Studios Singapore, which will feature a new themed zone - Minion Land - inspired by the Despicable Me film franchise, and rebranding the SEA Aquarium as the Singapore Oceanarium.

The Oceanarium will be three times the size of the SEA Aquarium and encompass a research and learning centre.

RWS will also refurbish the Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Hotel Michael and Festive Hotel, which have around 1,200 rooms in all, in phases from the second quarter of 2022 through 2023.

Festive Hotel will be refashioned into a business-leisure and work-vacation hotel, while the Resorts World Convention Centre will be refurbished.

The casino operator also released its full-year results yesterday, including a whopping 165 per cent jump in net profit to $183.3 million from $69.2 million a year earlier.

But earnings for the second half of 2021 plunged 49 per cent to $95.1 million as visitor numbers fell due to the rise in infections.

RWS said tighter safe management measures "had a profound negative impact on our operating capacity and visitor arrivals".

Genting Singapore shares gained 1.3 per cent to reach 79.5 cents yesterday before closing flat at 78.5 cents.

The group is proposing a final dividend of one cent a share, the same as a year earlier.

Resorts World Sentosa will add two new zones to Universal Studios Singapore - Minion Park and Super Nintendo World - as well as a new oceanarium. PHOTOS: RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA

Revenue for the 12 months to Dec 31 was mostly flat at $1.067 billion, compared with $1.063 billion a year earlier, as gains in gaming turnover offset a decline in non-gaming revenue.

Gaming revenues jumped 15 per cent to $802.6 million, while non-gaming turnover dropped 14 per cent to $258.2 million.

The group's adjusted Ebitda - measure of profit before interest, tax and other items - edged up 5 per cent to $448 million from $427 million a year ago. It said government support measures such as the Jobs Support Scheme and the SingapoRediscovers voucher scheme "partially mitigated the negative impact of the pandemic."

In comparison, Marina Bay Sands' adjusted Ebitda rose 23 per cent year on year to US$177 million (S$238 million). This was achieved on revenues of US$368 million, up 6.7 per cent in the same period.

Earnings per share at RWS came in at 1.52 cents, up from 0.57 cent a year earlier, while net asset value was 65.4 cents, against 64.9 cents as at Dec 31, 2020.

It also said it has acquired leasehold land for the expansion of its Singapore resort: "The acquisition has been included in the purchases of property, plant and equipment amounting to $942 million."

RWS chief executive Tan Hee Teck said: "We are confident that RWS will be well positioned to lead the recovery of Singapore's tourism as borders gradually reopen. We are fortunate that Singapore has a comprehensive plan on reviving international travel in a safe manner."

Las Vegas Sands announced on Jan 26 that its expansion of Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is on track to be finished in 2026.

The update came after Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan noted in Parliament on Jan 10 that the extent of delays to the expansion of Singapore's two integrated resorts remains unclear.

He said MBS and RWS had both flagged potential delays due to disruptions to the construction industry as a result of the pandemic.

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