Philippine developer Century Properties Group Inc – which on Tuesday announced it had completed its first bond issuance raising PHP2.7 billion (US$61.9 million) in fresh funds – said the same day it might be willing to resume talks with Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp about partnership on its US$2 billion Manila casino scheme.
In July, Manila-listed Century Properties stated in a filing it had obtained a Philippines court order stopping a group of companies including Universal Entertainment – that are controlled by Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada – from terminating a deal to develop jointly the Manila Bay Resorts gaming complex.
“The plan is for us to discuss among ourselves out of court, and then take it from there,” Kristina Garcia, head of investor relations for Century Properties, told reporters on Tuesday, according to reports in the Philippines media.
“On our side, if it will be the same terms we’re amenable to do that but there is no formal agreement yet,” Ms Garcia said on the sidelines of the listing of Century Properties’ bonds on the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp market.
Mr Okada’s side reportedly terminated in March an agreement that allowed Century Properties to build luxury residential and retail developments in the 44-hectare (109-acre) project.
GGRAsia has asked both Universal Entertainment and Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc – the firm controlled by Mr Okada that will be responsible for the resort’s operation once it is completed next year – for comment on the issue, but neither has spoken about it so far.
Even if reconciliation with Century Properties were not achieved, Mr Okada’s side would still need a local partner for the land part of the deal. That is if the resort is to have its temporary casino licence upgraded to a permit to operate, Cristino Naguiat, chairman of the country’s casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), said in June.
Mr Okada’s original deal with Century Properties, signed in October 2013, would have made the developer a 36-percent owner of an entity called Eagle I Landholdings Inc. The latter holds the resort’s land.
The deal reportedly was terminated after privately held Philippine firm First Paramount Holdings 888, which would also have a stake in Eagle I, withdrew from the agreement.
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.
The Philippine developer was also set to build luxury residential and retail properties in a 5-hectare site within the complex.
Mr Okada’s side holds one of four casino licences granted to private investors by Pagcor to build casino resorts in Entertainment City, a new development area in Manila. A condition imposed on the licensees is that they create properties that compete with the best that Macau, Singapore and Las Vegas have to offer in order to attract overseas players.
Other licence holders are: local firm Belle Corp, which teamed with Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd for City of Dreams Manila, due for a first phase opening at the turn of the year; Alliance Global Group Inc, which paired with Genting Hong Kong Ltd at the already-operational Resorts World Manila at Newport City near the capital’s airport; and Bloomberry Resorts Corp; the first to operate a casino complex – Solaire Resort and Casino – in Entertainment City proper. It opened in March last year.
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