Marina Bay Sands plunges into the red with US$113m loss for Q2

KEEPING its shutters down for more than two months during Singapore's "circuit breaker" has dragged Marina Bay Sands (MBS) into the red for the April-June period.

The integrated resort, run by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands (LVS) Corp, posted an adjusted property Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) loss of US$113 million for the second quarter this year.

This was a sharp fall from the adjusted Ebitda profit of US$346 million a year ago, according to New York-listed LVS's results released on Wednesday in the US.

Net revenue - from the casino, mall, convention centre, hotel rooms and food and beverage - plummeted 96.7 per cent on the year to just US$23 million for the quarter, from US$688 million in the corresponding period last year.

For the first half of this year, adjusted property Ebitda for MBS sank 78 per cent to a US$169 million profit, from US$769 million in H1 2019.

At The Shoppes, MBS's mall, tenants were provided rent concessions of about US$33 million as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Las Vegas Sands on Wednesday said it will continue to execute its previously announced capital-expenditure programmes in both Singapore and Macau, while pursuing growth opportunities in new markets.

Capital expenditure, including construction, development and maintenance activities, amounted to US$15 million at MBS in Q2 2020.

A heftier tax burden looms, should either MBS or rival integrated resort Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) fall through on last year's pledge to plough a combined S$9 billion into new non-gaming attractions. MBS had agreed to build a fourth tower with an entertainment arena, while RWS is set to expand Universal Studios Singapore and S.E.A. Aquarium, among other enhancements. Up to 5,000 jobs were expected to be added in all.

As for MBS's parent, the Las Vegas Sands group likewise spilled red ink for the second quarter, weighed down by the closure of gaming facilities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as social-distancing measures shutting down table games and slot machines.

The Singapore integrated resort closed on April 7 when the government mandated the temporary shutdown of all non-essential services. It "cautiously" reopened on June 19, starting with The Shoppes and restricting access to members. MBS then opened its doors to the wider public from July 6, allowing access to The Shoppes, ArtScience Museum, restaurants, and the observation deck.

MBS's casino reopened on July 1, although it remains accessible only to members and annual levy holders. The hotel resumed operations in stages starting from July 17. Other venues such as the expo and convention centre, the theatre and the Marquee nightclub stay closed until further notice.

Meanwhile, LVS's properties in Las Vegas were also shuttered from March 18, before reopening on June 4. However, gaming operations at its Macau properties remained in operation during this period.

LVS reported a net loss of US$985 million for the latest quarter versus a net income of US$1.11 billion in the April-June period last year. The group's net revenue totalled US$98 million in Q2 2020, a sliver of the US$3.33 billion raked in for Q2 2019.

The US casino giant did not announce any job cuts on Wednesday. Last week, MBS did not comment when asked by The Business Times whether it has layoffs planned for its more than 10,000 staff in Singapore, after Genting Singapore's RWS held a "one-off workforce rationalisation".

In June, an MBS spokesperson told The New Paper that there had been some non-renewals of employment contracts for foreign staff whose fixed-term contracts expire in the third quarter of this year, although MBS emphasised that this was not a retrenchment exercise. Most of the affected staff were working in the food and beverage operations, and represented a "very small" percentage of its overall workforce, the spokesperson said then.

Mr Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of LVS, said in the press statement on Wednesday that the early stages of recovery from the pandemic are now underway in each of the company's markets.

"We remain optimistic about an eventual recovery of travel and tourism spending across our markets, as well as our future growth prospects," he added.