In another amendment to the Macau gaming law since its first reading in January, the Macau government has reversed its absolute ban on concessionaire cross-shareholdings. Instead, shareholders in any Macau casino gaming concessionaire will now be limited to a maximum shareholding of 5% in other Macau concessionaires – as was suggested by IAG and other industry participants in March this year.
At the meeting of the Second Standing Committee of the Macau Legislative Assembly (AL) on Friday (May 13), the new Macau Gaming Law was discussed with various government officials including the Secretary for Economy and Finance Lei Wai Nong and the Director of the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau (DICJ), Adriano Ho. The government introduced a newly amended text of the law to Legislative Assembly members, effecting a variety of changes, including the newly relaxed cross-shareholding provision.
After the meeting, Andrew Chan Chak Mo, Chairman of the Second Standing Committee, quoted government officials, saying the government intends to change article 17(11) of the law, which had provided that, “Neither concessionaires nor shareholders who hold 5% or more of their capital stock may directly or indirectly own any capital stock of other concessionaires.” The new softened clause reads, “Neither concessionaires nor shareholders who hold 5% or more of their capital stock shall directly or indirectly own 5% or more of the capital of other concessionaires.”
Chan Chak Mo pointed out that this change is because the government believes that a total “non-cross-shareholding” provision is difficult to operate in practice.
In addition, the new text of the bill submitted to the AL in January had provided that “the total number of listed shares of concessionaires and their subsidiaries shall not exceed 30% of the total issued shares, and information on the remaining 70% of shareholders holding non-listed shares shall be submitted to the government annually,” but Chan Chak Mo pointed out that the government also considered this presented practical difficulties and has amended the provision to read the same as the current Macau gaming law, which simply states that “a concessionaire shall not be listed, except with the advice of the Gaming Commission and the approval of the Chief Executive.”
The six concessionaires in Macau, which are required to be Macau-domiciled companies, are not listed. However, they are all subsidiaries of listed companies.