Sun International reviews Panama and Colombia operations

The company's operations in Panama and Colombia have continued to underperform.

Picture Twitter @MillionThrills.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s Sun International is looking to sell certain assets it has in the Ocean Sun Casino in Panama and is planning to exit the Sun Nao Casino in Colombia, the casino and hotel operator’s chief executive said on Monday.

Stiff competition, fewer available casino licences and consumers feeling the pinch in Africa’s most industrialised country have pushed the gaming group to broaden its horizons to Latin America.

However, operations in Panama and Colombia have continued to underperform.

“We are not getting the revenue we anticipated we will get, we’re therefore looking to downscale properties,” group CEO Anthony Leeming told Reuters by telephone.

“In Panama we’re probably going to sell the apartments we bought and the top floor (VIP Business). In Colombia, we are in negotiation discussions to see if we can exit the lease.”

Alternatively, Leeming said the group will negotiate to reduce the period of its remaining two and half year lease in Sun Nao Casino in Colombia, which has been affected by low VIP customers among other issues.

Some of the biggest challenges in growing the Ocean Sun Casino in Panama, located in the Trump International Hotel and Tower, has been severe restrictions being placed by local banks on receiving money, paying customers and banking cash.

The Panama operations, which reported a 4% decrease in revenue to R119 million on Friday, has already undergone restructuring which involved cutting a number of positions to reduce operating hours in the tables business.

Sun Dreams, the group’s Latam portfolio which houses all its casinos there, is finalising a $27 million acquisition in Peru of Thunderbird Resorts, which comprises four gambling operations, Sun International said on Friday.

In addition, it intends to submit bids for a number of municipal licences in Chile as part of plans to diversify its asset base in Latam.

“Chile as a country is very stable, very low government debt, low inflation, low-interest rate and quite an attractive market. There could be quite a lot of potential in the country in the future,” Leeming said.