Zouk's dark horse buyers


It was news that shook up the nightlife scene this year: A company known for running cruise ships and casinos has bought over Singapore's most famous club, Zouk.

This seemingly incongruous acquisition by Genting Hong Kong, which runs Star Cruises, was sealed for an undisclosed sum.

For the last few years, the fate of the beloved Jiak Kim Street institution had been hanging in the balance over problems with the lease.

Then Genting Hong Kong, a stranger to Singapore's clubbing scene, bought it. The company owns hotels, casinos and cruise ships and is headquartered and listed in Hong Kong, with a secondary listing in Singapore. It is an affiliate of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group, of which Genting Singapore is a part of.

The company now owns all the club's major trademarks, the upcoming club in Clarke Quay, as well as the annual beach festival ZoukOut. Zouk's Kuala Lumpur branch was left out of the acquisition.

It sure is a bold move into Singapore's nightlife scene.

Reactions to the sale were mixed. Some old-timers lament the end of an era led by nightlife stalwart Lincoln Cheng, 68, who set up the club in 1991.

Others were happy that the party goes on for Zouk and look forward to Genting's plan to develop the Zouk brand internationally.

Zouk is now helmed by Mr Lim Keong Hui, Genting Hong Kong's executive director; Mr Andrew Li, the firm's vice-president of lifestyle and food and beverage concepts; and Zouk's former general manager-turned-managing director, Mr Benny Heng.

Genting Hong Kong's Mr Lim and Mr Li declined to be interviewed.

Zouk has consistently been ranked among the top 10 clubs in the world in British magazine DJ Mag's annual Top 100 clubs poll over the past five years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 20, 2015, with the headline 'Zouk's dark horse buyers'. Print Edition | Subscribe