Debt and Covid scuttle Genting Hong Kong

Asia’s largest cruise operator files for liquidation after its German shipyard goes bust amid financial woes brought on by Covid crisis

CRUISE operator Genting Hong Kong has become the biggest business casualty in Asia’s tourism industry as the Covid pandemic continues to take a toll.

A liquidation hearing in Bermuda, where Genting Hong Kong is incorporated, is due to take place today. The court will be asked to approve the appointment of provisional liquidators based in Hong Kong for the “winding up of the company”.

Genting Hong Kong is Asia’s largest cruise operator and the parent company of Crystal Cruises, which was a mainstay of the city’s Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. The company also operated from Singapore.

Backgrounder… Hong Kong pushes boat out for groups

A company spokesman told Singapore’s Business Times that Genting Hong Kong would continue “certain business activities” including its three cruise lines: Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises. This was in order to ”preserve and protect the core assets and maintain the value of the group”. However, it is “anticipated that the majority of the group’s existing operations will cease to operate”.

The company would maintain its three weekly cruise schedules from Hong Kong in February and March, Genting staff told the South China Morning Post.

Operations from Hong Kong and Taiwan had been suspended this month due to a new wave of Covid-19, but staff said cruises from Malaysia and Singapore continued as normal.

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Along with US-based Royal Caribbean, Genting Hong Kong’s cruise brands represented a bright future for Kai Tak Cruise Terminal until Covid emerged in early 2020. It had operated staycation-style “cruises to nowhere” until January this year when cases of the Omicron variant spread to Hong Kong.

Genting Hong Kong’s latest financial woes, however, were triggered after the company’s shipyard subsidiary in Germany, MV Werften Holdings, filed for liquidation as it struggled to repay US$2.78 billion of debt to state authorities.

MICE and cruise services were aligned under Hong Kong Tourism Board and its business events arm, Meetings Exhibitions Hong Kong. Cruise companies also offered meetings and events space aboard their ships with options to hire out the facilities or the whole vessel.

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