Manila-listed Century Properties Group Inc said in a filing it had obtained a Philippines court order stopping a group of companies controlled by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada from terminating a deal to develop jointly the US$2-billion Manila Bay Resorts (pictured in a rendering), a major casino and real estate project.
In the July 25 ruling, “…the court ordered the issuance of an injunction prohibiting the Okada group from giving effect to the termination of the agreements” with Century Properties, the company told the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
The injunction prohibits what’s referred to in the filing as the “Okada Group” from striking a deal with any other local partners. Having a local partner for the land is essential for Mr Okada and his companies in order for the project to go forward.
The court order blocks Mr Okada’s parties from “dealing with any party with respect to any sale, disposition or original issuance of any class of the shares of stock of Eagle I”, a reference to the company that holds the 44-hectare (109 acres) site where the casino resort will rise.
According to Wednesday’s filing, the court also forbade the Okada firms from negotiating new deals with any party to develop the commercial and residential project as it was originally agreed with Century Properties.
The court reversed an earlier ruling in May that had denied Century Properties such injunctive relief.
The original deal, signed in October 2013, would have made Century Properties 36-percent owner of Eagle I Landholdings Inc. The Philippine developer was also set to build luxury residential and retail properties in a 5-hectare site within the complex.
GGRAsia approached Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, the Okada company due to run the resort operations, for comment on the court ruling, but was told no comment was available at this stage.
Century Properties had filed a petition for interim measures of protection against Mr Okada’s affiliates Eagle I, Eagle II Holdco Inc and Brontia Ltd. The deal collapsed in March this year after First Paramount Holdings 888 Inc, the third local participant in the agreement, backed out of the deal to acquire 24 percent of Eagle I. The two local entities combined would otherwise have controlled 60 percent of Eagle 1, satisfying the local rules.
Mr Okada’s group holds one of four licences handed out by the country’s gaming regulator and casino licensor the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) for casino resort projects in an area known as Entertainment City.
Under the country’s constitution and public land laws, only Filipinos, or entities owned at least 60 percent by Filipino citizens, are allowed to own land, thus restricting Mr Okada or his majority-owned companies to just 40 percent ownership.
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”Back in March, we decided that until there’s more clarity on what the business is going to look like, what the world is going to look like, and what the regulations really are over there, we’re pretty much ceasing our efforts [in Japan regarding pursuit of a casino project]”
Group chief executive of casino operator Wynn Resorts