Donaco chairman expresses positive outlook

The company returned to positive EBITDA in October.
The company returned to positive EBITDA in October.

The operator reported revenues of US$40.5m for the full financial year 2020, down from US$65.5m the previous year.

Australia.- Donaco’s chairman, Paul Porntat Amatavivadhana, has expressed a positive outlook for the company’s casinos in Vietnam and Cambodia.

Speaking to investors at the company’s annual general meeting, he said 2020 had been a challenging year on two fronts.

Internally, the company navigated shareholding and management changes and arbitration proceedings.

The firm recently appointed Lee Bug Huy as chief executive officer, while two new independent directors, Andrew Phillips and Issaraya Intrapaiboon, also joined the company.

Donaco also reached an agreement with The Star Vegas in a litigation case which reduced over 80 per cent of the company’s liabilities while preserving The Star Vegas business.

Porntat Amatavivadhana said: “The settlement requires approval from Mega Bank as part of the provisions of a facility agreement with the lender. We have asked for a waiver from Mega Bank and we remain confident of securing approval.”

Externally the company also faced the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Porntat Amatavivadhana said: “Whilst executing a prudent cost control strategy, we have taken the opportunity to adjust some of the service provider agreements we had in place.

“This has resulted in restructuring our gaming machine arrangements, utilising our ample space to introduce retail outlets, and reorganise our arrangements with junket operators for improved outcomes.”

He also mentioned that Donaco had focused on targeting clientele from the local region to reduce international expenses.

This strategy led the Australian operator to report positive EBITDA results for October and November. The firm reported US$540,000 in October and US$800,000 in November, adding that the trend would continue into December with its flagship Cambodian casino, Star Vegas in Poipet, no longer making a loss.

Aristo in Vietnam was allowed to reopen on May 8 and is operating on a limited basis as the border with China, where most of its customers come from, remains closed. Star Vegas in Cambodia reopened on September 25.

Porntat Amatavivadhana said: “The growing trend has continued into December and the company is extremely encouraged that since its limited reopening Star Vegas is no longer making a loss and the outlook for our Aristo operation is also increasingly positive.”

The chairman also said Donaco was “exploring other options to access the gaming market” and that the strategy for 2021 would be “building on these pragmatic initiatives, underpinned by a strengthened balance sheet.”

After the chairman’s speech, Donaco’s CEO, Lee Bug Huy, and chief financial officer, Gordon Lo, offered a presentation of the full-year 2020 results, which showed revenues of AU$53.49m (US$40.5m) down from AU$86.3 million (US$65.5m) in 2019.

Donaco’s full-year EBITDA hit AU$10.38m (US$7.87m), down from AU$29.6m (US$22.44m) in the previous year.

The executives stressed that EBITDA had shown 7 per cent growth in the first half of the financial year before the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the business. This was due to operational improvements at the casinos, they said.

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