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MRC Allied eyes casino business

By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) Updated June 13, 2011 12:00 AM 

MANILA, Philippines - MRC Allied Industries Inc., a holding firm owned by a group led by businessman Benjamin Bitanga, is planning to venture into the casino business as part of a plan to transform its idle property in Cebu City into an integrated entertainment resort complex.

In a briefing Friday, Bitanga said the company wants to actively pursue gaming entertainment and tourism to capitalize on the lack or limited number of gaming facilities in the provinces.

Bitanga said the company is in discussions with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. to put up a casino in its 160-hectare industrial estate in Naga City, Cebu.

He said the company is hoping to take advantage of the growing appetite for gambling.

The casino industry is a global gaming industry generating a large volume of revenues and one that has been flourishing strongly, particularly as affluence grows in Asia. It likewise offers a large variety of employment opportunities.

Since 2000, MRC has had minimal operations and simply continued and maintained its two eco-friendly projects: the New Cebu Township One of Naga, Cebu and Amihan Woodlands Township of Northern Leyte, consisting of 700 hectares of raw land.

Located 35 kilometers away from the Mactan International Airport, the industrial estate in Naga City, known as the New Cebu Township One (NCTO), is registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority as a special economic zone. At present, the lead locator in the park is Kyocera, a Japanese manufacturer of ceramics. Further development is required to fully maximize the value of this property.

Also classified as a special economic zone, the Leyte Property was originally planned as an eco-tourism project, considering the more than 10 km coastline that rises to forested mountains. No major development of the property, however, has been undertaken.

MRC was negatively affected by the Asian Crisis of 1997 and essentially maintained minimal operation since then.

MRC is now into mining with the acquisition of a mining claim covering 7,995 hectares at Kiblawan and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat as well as a 3,718.41-hectare gold and copper property in Surigao del Sur.

The Kiblawan mine is adjacent to the $5.2 billion Tampakan copper-gold project.

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