While Imperial Pacific International was quick to dismiss bankruptcy rumours circulating on social media, the company has been forced to cut staff numbers “in order to ensure the company’s survival” following Super Typhoon Yutu.
It’s been a difficult year for Hong Kong-listed Imperial Pacific International, with then firm reporting a 91.3 percent fall in profits in
H1 2018. But it doesn’t look like the situation is set to get any easier any time soon. In November, the company was forced to defend its decision to layoff a large number of staff at its Saipan integrated resort, claiming the cuts were necessary in order to ensure the firm’s survival.
The move came after the casino at Imperial Pacific Resort was forced to close on 17 November in the wake of Super Typhoon Yutu, a Category5 storm.
“The entire community is suffering and has had to make difficult decisions because of Yutu’s natural disaster and its dire effects,” said IPI in a statement. “Businesses throughout the CNMI are operating on limited hours or have completely closed down. Some have closed due to the damage to their businesses and others closed because it is too costly to run generators to maintain normal business hours.
“One of the most devastating effects to businesses has been the impact to tourism – no customers.”
The company clarified that the closure of the island’s inter- national airport had “put a complete halt to the tourism industry.”
Saipan International Airport was damaged when the storm hit in late October, with normal services reportedly only beginning to resume by mid-November.
“Given this current situation, many employees are faced with either reduced work hours or have been laid off. Imperial Pacific has not been spared from this. The company has determined that because of the lack of tourists on the island, it has no choice but to operate on limited hours with minimal staff,” IPI added.
“Because it is unclear when tourist arrivals will normalise and when the airport will be fully operational, Imperial Pacific made a difficult decision to reduce its manpower. This decision has not been easy because the company realises that many lives will be impacted.
“Imperial Pacific regrets that layoffs must commence, but it is necessary in order to ensure the company’s survival until such time as our visitor population normalises and we can sustain regular business operations.”
Despite this, IPI was quick to dismiss rumours circulating on social media that called the company’s solvency into question.
“A rumour is circulating on social media about a senior executive of IPI, and the financial status of the company. The rumour is completely baseless and
untrue,” IPI said in a separate statement on 9 November.
“If in fact IPI had or will be initiating bankruptcy proceedings, an announcement with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange would have been made.” The company added that it would be taking legal action against the “original online source spreading slanderous fake news”.
At the end of October, IPI announced the return of former chairman Mark Brown to over- see the “final phase of completion” of the Imperial Pacific Resort, now scheduled for February 2021 after a recent two- and-a-half year extension to its previous construction deadline.
Brown stepped down as IPI’s chairman last December “to pursue other projects close to his family.” Brown had previously served in the chairman’s role in January 2017 following a restructuring that saw him leave his role as IPI’s CEO, a position he had held since 2015.
Brown took over as “interim chairman” at the beginning of November and will “lend his support to rebuilding and guiding the IPI project to completion” in his new position.
Brown replaces Henry Cheang, who had been serving as both CEO and chairman of IPI since the previous chairman Marco Teng stepped down in August after serving only eight months in the role.