The chairman of a Hong Kong-listed company building a casino on South Korea’s Jeju Island has replaced its chairman after the former company head became involved in an investigation in China, according to statements to the Hong Kong exchange and mainland news accounts.
New SilkRoad Culturaltainment Ltd, an affiliate of developer Beijing Macrolink Group, announced to the stock exchange on 30 December that the company’s board had appointed Ma Chenshan as Executive Director and Chairman of the company, which is currently developing a luxury condo project on Sydney’s Circular Quay in addition to its planned Glorious Hill Casino on Jeju Island.
Ma replaces former Chairman Su Bo who had been suspended from his duties on 23 December as the company explained that Su was assisting the Public Security Authority with an investigation. Ma also takes Su’s place as New SilkRoad’s legal representative.
In its 23 December announcement, the Hong Kong-listed company indicated that the mainland police discussions with Su related to the company Chairman’s personal activities, and, to the best of their knowledge, did not directly involve the developer or its business.
Also on 23 December, Su was replaced as Chairman and President of Macrolink Culturaltainment Development Co.a Shenzhen-listed unit of Macrolink Group which is the controlling shareholder of New Silkroad Culturaltainment Limited, according to statements by that company.
Korean Casino Project in the Works
In their statements, neither New SilkRoad, nor Macrolink Culturaltainment revealed the substandce of the investigation that prompted the removal of their Chairman. Su’s run-in with the mainland police comes less than one year after the developer announced that it had won permission from local authorities on Jeju Island to develop its Glorious Hill Casino project on the vacation destination.
The Korean casino is planned to be developed in three phases, with the first stage set to include a 580 room 5-star hotel, according to statements by New SilkRoad, which already manages a foreigner-only gaming establishment on Jeju Island.
Macrolink originally announced its Jeju project in January 2014, the same month that it unveiled plans for a residential project in Malaysia’s Johor state. The Macrolink Medini project in the Iskandar area just across the border from Singapore remains in development.
Police University Graduate Leaves HK-Listed Entity
Su, whose replacement is set to be voted on by the company’s shareholders through an extraordinary general meeting which closes on 22 January, had been an Executive Director of New SilkRoad since 8 June 2015, and had been appointed as Chairman later that same month.
At the time that Su ascended to the top role at the Hong Kong-listed company, it was still known as JLF Investment Company Limited, with Macrolink Group acquiring the company and changing the name to New Silkroad Culturaltainment Limited in July 2015.
Prior to taking control of the Hong Kong-listed company, Su had served as an Executive Director and President of Macrolink Culturaltainment Development since 2012.
In February 2019 the graduate of the People’s Public Security University of China added the title of Chairman of Macrolink Culturaltainment to his portfolio. Su is also a director of Macrolink Culturaltainment’s wholly owned subsidiary, Macro-Link International Land Limited, according to the company’s website.
Under Way in Australia, Exited From Canada
In addition to its Korean project, Macrolink used New SilkRoad in June 2016 to purchase the iconic Coca-Cola office building on Sydney’s Circular Quay for A$158.8 million (then $119 million).
Macrolink, which was said at the time that it acquired the Sydney property to have ties to Australian billionaire James Packer and Macau casino boss Lawrence Ho, is currently converting the former office building into 104 luxury apartments above four storeys of retail space.
In 2017 the Beijing group entered the Canadian market by paying HK$184 million ($23.7 million) to acquire a 51 percent stake in the Mackenzie Creek residential project in a suburb of York, Ontario. At the beginning of last month local Canadian developer Sunny Land Development announced that it had bought out New Silk Road’s interest in the project, which has yet to break ground.
Former Media Executive to Take Over Chairman Role
Now 44, Ma Chenshan prepares to step into the top role at New Silkroad just two years after joining Macro-Link Holding, as a Director and Executive Vice-President. Prior to joining Macro-Link Holding, the Chinese Literature graduate of Shanxi University had served as a member of the Standing Committee of the Guangyuan Municipal Committee for the city in Sichuan Province.
Before taking on that government role, Ma had worked as a reporter at CCTV, an editor and later deputy president of the China Cooperative Times and a director at the Beijing-based Communist Party newspaper Guangming Daily.
In addition to his planned role at New SilkRoad, in a statement to the Shenzhen exchange on 23 December, Macrolink Culturaltainment announced that Ma had been appointed as an Executive Director of the company.
In the same announcement, the company revealed that long-time Macrolink executive Gou Yongping had been named as the new President of Macrolink Culturaltainment, replacing Su Bo, who had formerly held the President title in addition to his role as Chairman. The mainland company has yet to name a new chairman.