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Group behind Savan Vegas in Laos loses $175 mln litigation initiated by Macau investor

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Macau-based company Sanum Investments Ltd has won a litigation case in a commercial dispute against the Laos-based gambling group responsible for the development of the Savan Vegas Hotel and Entertainment Complex, located in Savannakhet Province in Laos.

According to court documents sent to AGB, the decision by an arbitration tribunal appointed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which operates an office in Macau, granted some $175 million in compensation to the claimant for contractual breaches and disagreements over the terms of engagement concerning the development of Savan Vegas.

The case pitted Sanum Investments Respondents against ST Group and ST Vegas, along with its owner – Lao businessman Sithat Xaysoulivong, regarding the establishment and operation of slot clubs and casinos in Laos.

Sanum and ST jointly entered into a joint venture, which included a highly profitable slot club at the Vientiane Friendship Bridge, now known as the ST Casino, with the disagreement centered specifically on the Thanaleng Slot Club.

According to the court decision, ST and Mr. Sithat, who held concessions for hotel and casino projects and owned existing slot machine clubs, sought a partner with financial resources and gaming expertise.

Sanum was interested in investment opportunities in Southeast Asia, and a joint venture began in May 2007, with Sanum initially holding 60 percent and ST holding 40 percent, but disagreements arose in mid-2012 regarding the turnover of management responsibilities.

Group behind Savan Vegas in Laos loses $175 mln litigation initiated by Macau investor

In 2012 the Laos government seized the Savan Vegas property from Sanum Investments alleging tens of millions in unpaid taxes and penalties. The property was later sold to Macau Legend in 2016, for a consideration of $42 million, paid out to the Laos government.

According to the document, Sanum was said to have invested over $85 million in the Laos gaming business over the years.

After prior litigation in Lao courts, Sanum initiated arbitration proceedings in the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC), but a ruling from the Singapore Court of Appeal in late 2019 determined that the arbitration should have been seated in Macau.

Consequently, in January 2020, Sanum filed a Macau-seated arbitration with the Macau office of the ICC.

The ICC Arbitral Tribunal, comprising three experienced arbitrators, ruled in Sanum’s favor on October 16th, 2023, ruling that the respondents breached their agreements with Sanum, awarding Sanum $170.2 million in damages, $2.7 million in costs, and $1.7 million that Sanum previously collected in Singapore, plus annually compounded interest at the US FED currently at 5.5 percent per annum.

Macau-Legend-Palace-Hotel
Savan Vegas was later sold to Macau Legend in 2016, for a consideration of $42 million, paid out to the Laos government

In November 2023, the respondents filed an application seeking a decrease in the amount of damages awarded, which the ICC tribunal unanimously rejected on January 25th, 2024, putting an end to the arbitration. 

Currently, the process has entered the recognition of the award stage by Laotian judicial authorities, marking a final procedural step that enables immediate enforcement.

Last year, the operator of Macau Fisherman’s Wharf, Macau Legend, announced its intention to sell its entire interest in its Laos gaming operation – Savan Legend Resorts Hotel and Entertainment Complex – for some $45 million.

The purchaser was named as Shundo Yoshinari, a Japanese citizen residing in Japan who is currently unlinked to Macau Legend.

Nelson Moura
Nelson Mourahttp://agbrief.com
Editor and reporter with 10 years of experience in Greater China, namely Taiwan and Macau, in printed and online media, with a focus on finance, gaming, politics, crime, business and social issues.

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