Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc – a firm controlled by Japanese gaming entrepreneur Kazuo Okada – has got a new local partner for its US$2-billion Manila Bay Resorts project (pictured in a rendering). The announcement was made on Thursday, as the company held a topping-off ceremony for its first hotel in the Philippine development, located in Entertainment City, in Manila.
Tiger Resort officially confirmed its partnership with local company All Seasons Hotel and Resort Corp, headed by businessman Antonio O. Cojuangco, a relative of Philippine President Benigno Aquino.
“Through this collaboration with Mr Cojuangco, Tiger Resort has acquired a strong local partner that will add value to the development by lending his years of experience and expertise in the tourism and arts industries,” Tiger Resort said in a press release.
The statement added: “Mr Cojuangco is the right partner to help Tiger Resort in catering to the Filipino people and establishing business partnerships that will help position the property as the entertainment destination of choice in Manila.”
The press release did not include details of the partnership.
The deal with All Seasons Hotel and Resort aims to satisfy Philippines foreign ownership rules. 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. Previous attempts by the Japanese businessman to find local partners had failed, putting at risk the Manila Bay Resorts project.
“As far as we are concerned, as far as our lawyers are concerned, we are qualified in the 60-40,” Mr Cojuangco told reporters on Thursday.
He stated that All Seasons Hotel and Resort is planning to help develop hotels, residential towers, office buildings and a opera house in the remaining land available at the Manila Bay Resorts land plot.
“The plans for that should start sometime next year because by then, they will be inside the casino finishing it,” Mr Cojuangco said, quoted by Reuters. He also mentioned the possibility of a later listing of the partnership in the Philippine Stock Exchange.
Pagcor agrees to 2016 opening
Tiger Resort stated in its Thursday press release that the company was aiming to open Manila Bay Resorts in 2016 – a year later than initially planned. According to Philippine newspaper BusinessWorld, the firm was able to secure an extension of the work timetable to finish project from the country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, also known as Pagcor.
Pagcor’s vice president for gaming licensing and development, Francis P. Hernando, told BusinessWorld that the regulator approved on June 25 the new timetable that pushed back the completion of Manila Bay Resorts to December 31, 2016 from March 31, 2015.
“There were certain terms and conditions that we asked for – for the extension – to which Tiger Resort agreed. So upon fulfilment of those conditions, the extension will be effective,” he was quoted as saying.
Mr Hernando added that the main condition was for the company to “show proof that there are financial resources for the completion of the project which Tiger Resort is ready to provide.”
In May, Pagcor said it had confiscated a PHP100-million (US$2.2 million) guarantee payment from Tiger Resort, citing delays in the project and the previously agreed March deadline relating to the project.
The board of Japanese gaming investment company Universal Entertainment Corp – the parent company of Tiger Resort and also controlled by Mr Okada – on Tuesday announced it was planning a placement of between US$600 million and US$900 million in offshore private notes. The funds raised will be used for “repayment of existing short-term debt and payment for construction and development of Manila Bay Resorts,” said Universal Entertainment.
Tiger Resort said in an email to GGRAsia on May 18 that as of that date it had committed approximately US$750 million to the Manila Bay Resorts project, with a further US$1 billion pending.
“All preparations are under way and our whole team is working hard in ensuring that everything gets finished properly and on-time,” Mr Okada said in a prepared statement on Thursday.
Manila Bay Resorts will feature two hotel towers and a 30,000-square-metre (322,917-sq-feet) casino housing 500 table games and 3,000 slot machines. It will also include a man-made beach resort with 100-metre diameter indoor glass dome, around 25 food and beverage outlets, retail and spa facilities, and a dancing water fountain and light show. Tiger Resort expects to employ around 8,000 employees once fully operational.
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