Picture: PAUL YEUNG/BLOOMBERG
Picture: PAUL YEUNG/BLOOMBERG

Casino operator Sun International said on Monday that it was eyeing further growth in Latin America, even after taking a profit hit from political protests in Chile in 2019.

The group said it was hoping to leverage continued positive GDP growth in Peru and Chile, and was looking for opportunities as a number of countries in the region move to regulate online gambling.

The group's Latin American operation performed below expectations during its year to end-December, after protests in Chile over public transport fees spilt over into unrest over issues such as inequality, pensions and education quality.

This had led to a significant deterioration in that market, with the group reporting that several properties were damaged. This was offset by a better performance in SA, due to the continued ramp-up of the flagship Time Square property in Pretoria.

The group reported that profit after tax rose 28% to R960m during its year to end-December, also reporting above-market growth at its Sibaya Casino in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as at its SunSlots and Sunbet gaming operations.

During the year the group simplified its head office, which it said would result in operational efficiencies and support margin growth in SA.

The group’s Latin American operation performed below expectations, with adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation, and restructuring or rent costs (ebitdar) falling 8% to R1.3bn.

Group adjusted ebitdar rose 1% to R4.56bn.

The group had acquired Thunderbird Resorts in Peru in April 2018 and the Park Hyatt Hoteland Casino in Argentina in July 2018.

gernetzkyk@businesslive.co.za