Melco Crown Entertainment will propose changing its English name at its forthcoming AGM, as it looks towards a future without Crown Resorts.

Lawrence Ho to drop Crown from Melco Crown

Macau casino royalty Lawrence Ho is now the controlling shareholder of Melco Crown and he’s looking to rebrand. (Image: Bloomberg)

The Macau-based casino resorts company will ask shareholders to vote on the idea of rebranding to “Melco Resorts & Entertainment,” dropping “Crown” entirely. The company has said it will have assumed a completely new corporate identity by the end of the year.

Among the voters at that AGM will be Crown Resorts, although it will be missing the kind of clout it used to have at these events.

Late last year, Crown sold $1.5 billion of its stock in Melco Crown back to Ho, slashing its equity in the venture from 34 percent to 11.2 percent, and ceding the controlling stake to the Macau mogul.

Promising Start

James Packer’s Crown formed Melco Crown in 2005 as a joint venture with Ho’s Melco International, in order to explore the creation and operation of spectacular integrated casino resorts at a time when the Macau economy was booming.

Together they created the City of Dreams on the Cotai Strip, a mega-resort with three (soon to be four) hotels, plus theaters, shops and over 20 restaurants.

Then there was the City of Dreams Manila, in the Philippines, which opened in 2014, and then, last year, Studio City Macau, a $4.5 billion resort that mingled television and film production facilities with retail, fine dining and gaming.

But Studio City ultimately opened in a very different climate from that in which it had been conceived.

Disaster Strikes

In 2014, Chinese president Xi Jinping launched an unprecedented anti-corruption and money-laundering crack down with the aim of stemming the tide of corrupt money flowing out of the Chinese mainland and into Macau.

Since Melco Crown, in particular, derived most of its revenues from the Chinese high rollers who had been scared off by the anti-corruption drive, as its operations were based solely in the region, it suffered more than its competitors from Macau’s ensuing economic plunge.

Packer’s dreams of international expansion were shaken and, when 18 Crown employees were arrested in China on suspicion of marketing Crown services to Chinese high rollers, they were all but destroyed.

Heir to the Crown

Crown has now reduced its investment in the region to a minimum as it realigns its focus to projects closer to home.

Meanwhile, Macau is experiencing something of a bounce back, driven by the emergence of the mass market, and Melco Crown, or Melco Resorts as it will probably be known post-AGM, has reason to be optimistic.

“With Melco [International] and Lawrence taking majority shares now, we are all thrilled and looking forward to a new corporate entity unveiling this new chapter of the company and reflecting the new energy as well,” Melco Crown’s senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations, Maggie Ma, told GGRAsia.