Casino talk boosts local property martBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Buzz about possible hotel-casino partnerships for Manila’s rising Entertainment City is adding fizz to the property play in the country.
On Friday, shares of Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) and its parent conglomerate, JG Summit Holdings, surged after RLC confirmed talks with the group of Japanese casino tycoon Kazuo Okada about participating in the $2-billion entertainment complex also called Pagcor City.
Shares went up even though RLC said it was merely “exploring and evaluating” such investment opportunities, and that “no definitive agreements” had been entered into by RLC with the Japanese casino group.
RLC shares went up by 3.76 percent to close at P18.20 per share while JG Summit shares surged by 1.55 percent to P32.70 on Friday.
Both stocks outperformed the main-share Philippine Stock Exchange index which inched up by 0.18 percent to finish at 5,214.52, ending a five-day slump.
Okada, chair of Japan-based Universal Entertainment—and one of four investors in Entertainment City of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.—has committed to invest $2 billion in Pagcor City in a complex seen to create up to 16,000 direct and indirect jobs for Filipinos.
The groups of Filipino-Chinese taipans Henry Sy and Andrew Tan are likewise building entertainment hubs in the area, which the Philippines intends to develop as another Asian version of Las Vegas.
Another gaming license is held by port operations magnate Enrique Razon Jr.
Shares of Ayala Land Inc. (ALI), however, were down by 0.24 percent to P20.65 per share on Friday. It is widely believed that one factor behind the Ayala group’s reluctance to add gaming to its property portfolio is the Catholic Church ownership in some Ayala companies.
At present, all segments of the property market are boosting the sector, including the cyclical residential segment which has defied doomsday predictions.
The Inquirer reported that the Alliance Global Group led by Andrew Tan was likewise in talks with Okuda but the company did not give a statement on Friday. “We might have a disclosure next week,” said a spokesperson for the AGI group.
AGI already has a partnership with Malaysian conglomerate Genting via Travellers Hotel International, operator of Resorts World Manila (RWM). It has been estimated that RWN, the first privately owned casino in the country, now corners 40 percent of the Philippine gaming market.
For its part, the Sy-led Belle Corp. recently teamed up with casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment, operator of Macau’s “City of Dreams,” to create a $1-billion resort and gaming facility that is set to open by the fourth quarter of 2013.
The first gaming hub to open in Pagcor City, however, will be Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s Solaire Manila. The Razon-led project announced plans to open by the first quarter of 2013 and likewise said it was looking at other “promising” locations here and abroad.