Philippine casino investor Belle Corp announced on Friday it has been authorised to sell up to 3.76 billion common shares of Premium Leisure Corp held by the company.
The firm said in a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange that its executive team will be embarking on a one-week ‘road show’ starting on Friday, and will meet with potential investors both locally and abroad.
The sale is hardly surprising, with several recent media reports hinting in that direction. Willy Ocier, Belle’s vice chairman and also chairman of Premium Leisure, on July 21 told GGRAsia that is was “not necessary” for Belle to own 90 percent of Premium Leisure, and that it was likely a portion of the 90 percent (resulting from enlargement) would be sold to the public.
Earlier this week, Belle confirmed the increase of its stake in Premium Leisure to almost 90 percent.
The sale now announced of up to 3.76 million shares equals to almost 12 percent of Premium Leisure’s outstanding shares. It will reduce Belle’s stake in the firm to slightly above 77 percent.
Belle recently reorganised its gaming assets, transferring its 100 percent stake in Premium Leisure and Amusement Inc and its 34.5 percent interest in Pacific Online Systems Corp to Premium Leisure, formerly known as Sinophil Corp.
Premium Leisure and Amusement is part of the consortium that holds a gaming licence for casino resort City of Dreams Manila (pictured in an artist’s rendering). The other partner is Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, a subsidiary of Macau-based Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
The US$1.2-billion casino resort will feature up to approximately 365 gaming tables, 1,680 slot machines and 1,680 electronic table games upon opening. The property is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of this year in Manila’s Entertainment City. It will be operated by Melco Crown Philippines.
Premium Leisure earlier this month announced it would adopt a dividend policy of “paying at least 80 percent of [the] previous year’s unrestricted retained earnings”. The high dividend payout policy, fuelled by eventual payments from its participation in the City of Dreams Manila casino resort is likely one of the main selling points of the share sale now announced.
Belle is controlled by SM Group, headed by Henry Sy, patriarch of what according to Forbes magazine, is the Philippines’ richest family.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau