Genting Executives Resign as Cruise Lines Suspend Operations
Genting Hong Kong confirmed that its billionaire founder and CEO, along with the President of the company, resigned after the naming of the provisional liquidators of the financially troubled cruise ship and casino resort owner. The resignations were reported after the company’s cruise lines also confirmed that they would all be suspending operations. Previously, management had said it hoped to at least maintain the operations of Dream Cruises in Asia.
Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay resigned as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the company effective January 21 Genting Hong Kong reported in a filing to the stock exchange. Lim, who owns 76 percent of Genting Hong Kong, had originally asked the court in Bermuda to retain his management responsibilities to oversee the day-to-day operations of the company while the provisional liquidators worked on the refinancing of the company. He had founded the company as Star Cruises in the early 1990s. Star was a pioneer in modern cruising in Asia developing a mix of casino gambling and resort-style amenities in an approach that helped to overhaul the cruise experience worldwide.
There, however, were frequent changes to Star’s marketing and deployment, moving ships into different markets and buying and selling ships for the operation. In 1999, Star purchased Norwegian Cruise Line and was credited with revitalizing the faltering brand and driving the introduction of resort-style cruising in the west.
Mr. Lim continues in his roles at the other Genting companies which operate casinos and resorts in Asia. There has been some speculation that he might now use his wealth to purchase parts of his former company during the liquidation.
Au Fook Yew, known in the west as Colin Au, also resigned from Genting Hong Kong on January 21. Au had been the Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Group President, and Executive Director of the Company and he was credited with the expansion of Genting Hong Kong in recent years. The company acquired the German shipyard and launched Dream Cruises in 2016 after acquiring Crystal Cruises from NYK the prior year.
Dream Cruises, which had been operating short cruises from Singapore and Hong Kong plus recently resuming cruises around Taiwan, announced over the weekend that it would be suspending reservations for at least two weeks. The company had hoped to maintain the operation from Singapore and was planning for the restart of cruises from Hong Kong in early February when it is anticipated the government would relax temporary COVID-19 related restrictions.
Genting Hong Kong’s third cruise operation, Star Cruises, said that its ship operating in Malaysia would complete one final short cruise before suspending operations this week. Crystal Cruises made news over the weekend when they diverted one of its cruise ships to the Bahamas to avoid arrest in Miami, but Crystal’s other two cruise ships are continuing to operate their final cruises. Crystal last week said it would suspend operations till April and May 2022.
Speculation across the industry is focused on the value of the assets and the potential that the companies are likely sold in pieces or if there is a possible route to refinance Genting Hong Kong.