Hong Kong Tycoon Buys 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms for His New Macau Gaming Resort

Thursday, September 18th, 2014 | Written by April Bergman
Hong Kong Tycoon Buys 30 Rolls-Royce Phantoms for His New Macau Gaming Resort

A Hong Kong tycoon who plans to build a gaming resort in Macau bought 30 Rolls-Royces Phantoms for his gambling destination. The purchase cost $20 million, and is meant to provide the new casino resort with something that sets it apart from all other local gaming destinations.

Stephen Hung is a flamboyant Hong Kong businessman known for posh hotels in the Chinese business enclave. The 30-car deal eclipses a 2006 purchase of 14 Rolls-Royces Mr. Hung made for Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel in 2006. The purchase was substantial enough that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes welcomed Stephen Hung to the corporate headquarters in Goodwood, England, to mark the occasion.

Record-Setting Rolls-Royce Purchases

The deal was signed this last Tuesday at the company’s Goodwood factory. It marks the largest single purchase of Rolls-Royce automobiles in the company’s 108-year history. Two of the Extended WheelBase Phantoms being commissioned are going to be the most expensive Phantoms ever built. These cars will have “gold-plated accents” on the interior and on the outside.

The cars will be used to impress guests at the Louis XIII hotel, which Hung plans to open in early 2016. The Louis XIII hotel is being called an “ultra-luxury” resort. All the talk in the international casino gambling industry these days is about luring “Asian high rollers”. The Louis XIII Casino is expected to lure the biggest whales in China, because its opulence should be second to none.

The deal calls for Hung to pay $2 million as a deposit this year. He will pay another $3 million at the end of the year. When the cars are ready to be shipped to Macau in early 2016, Hung will pay the remaining $15 million. The base price for a single Rolls-Royce Phantom is a $734,000, though customizations and add-ons sometimes push the price over $1 million. If one does the math, Stephen Hung is getting a $22.5 million value for the cost of $20 million. When you consider that two of the cars are expected to be the most expensive Phantoms ever built, Stephen Hung may have bought his cars for several million less than usual, perhaps for buying them at a bulk rate.

Xi Jinping’s Corruption Investigations

Stephen Hung’s investments come at an interesting time in Macau. China’s gambling enclave has experienced several months of declining revenues. China’s economic and political elite are trying to be inconspicuous at the moment, and fear of conspicuous consumption has caused many high rollers to stay away from Macau.

The cause of that economic reticence is the anti-corruption movement of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Over the past year, Xi Jinping has cashiered a number of top Chinese officials by denouncing them as corrupt. The move is well-calculated to play on the resentments of China’s growing middle class, which has long been subject to the excesses of the Communist Party’s top officials.

Anti-Corruption in Macau

As Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption actions have gained momentum, the corruption in Macau has become an issue. A gambling enclave is always going to be in danger of becoming a money laundering hub, and that appears to have happened in Macau over these past 10 years. Gamblers may not want to be associated with casino gambling at this very moment, because some financial elites have been targeted, too.

Stephen Hung gained approval for his casino before the Xi’s reforms began, and he may calculate they will have run their course by the time the Louis XIII opens in 2016. Nothing about Mr. Hung is understated, as one can see from his recent photo ops with the Rolls-Royce CEO (pictured above).

Who Was Louis XIII?

The ultra-luxury hotel Stephen Hung is building in Macau is named for Louis “the Just”, who ruled France from 1610 to 1643. Though Louis XIII’s son, Louis XIV, is much more famous, the Sun King’s ascendance in European politics is largely the legacy of the father.

Louis XIII ruled France during the Thirty Years War, a conflict which involved most of the great powers of Europe. Louis XIII was a main antagonist to the Habsburgs of Austria and Spain, who were bidding for dominance of Europe. His victory in the war set the stage for France’s rise to the preeminent land power in Europe, a prestige which remained despite the French Revolution, reached its height in the Napoleonic Era, and only came to an end 230 years later in 1870-71, when Prussia united the German states into the Second German Reich (after defeating France in a war). Technically, Louis XIII was not reigning when France ultimately defeated the Habsburg armies–he had died 5 days prior.