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Robinsons Land in talks to manage Okada casino

Posted on July 13, 2012 07:35:16 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]

GOKONGWEI-LED Robinsons Land Corp. is in talks for the possible management of Kazuo Okada’s integrated casino resort complex in the Philippines, a disclosure on Friday showed.

"We confirm that Robinsons Land is presently in discussions with the group of Mr. Okada," the disclosure read.

"As a property developer, it is usual for Robinsons Land to explore and evaluate investment opportunities. However, no definitive agreements have been entered into by Robinsons Land with the said group," it added.

Mr. Okada -- who is currently embroiled in a legal dispute with his former business partner Steve Wynn -- heads casino giant Universal Entertainment Corp., whose local unit, Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., is building Manila Bay Resorts in the Bagong Nayong Pilipino Entertainment City.

During the project’s groundbreaking last January, Mr. Okada told guests -- which had then included Frederick D. Go, Robinsons Land president and chief executive, and Teresita T. Sy-Coson, SM Investments Corp. vice-chairman -- that Tiger Resorts will be on the lookout for a local operating partner for Manila Bay Resorts’ proposed shopping arcades.

Back then, Mr. Go and Ms. Sy-Coson both declined to comment on their respective companies’ involvement in the Manila Bay Resorts project.

On Friday, however, Corazon P. Guidote, SM Investments senior vice-president for investor relations, said her camp was not in talks with Tiger Resorts for a similar partnership.

Tiger Resorts had previously committed $2 billion for Manila Bay Resorts, with construction already in full swing despite Mr. Okada’s ongoing legal battles.

Tiger Resorts already completed the land purchase for the complex and the construction of the main casino has already started, earlier reports said.

Robinsons Land, incorporated in 1980, is the property arm of listed conglomerate JG Summit Holdings, Inc.

It has built 29 malls, 33 residential projects, eight office buildings, and five hotels as of end-2011.

Shares of Robinsons Land rose sharply by 3.76% to P18.20 from P17.45 on Thursday, while those of SM Investments slid by 0.28% to P725.00 versus P727.00 at its previous close. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente    
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