By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 1, 2012 - 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines - Leisure developer and gaming firm Belle Corp. is spending P5 billion for the second phase of the $1-billion mixed-use complex that will rise within the proposed Entertainment City along Roxas Bld.
In a text message, Belle vice-chairman Willy N. Ocier said construction works for Phase 2 has already started with the interior and fit-out of the facility targeted to be completed in January 2013.
He said funding for Phase 2 will come from proceeds of a stock rights issue and loan facilities from Banco De Oro.
Upon completion of Phase 2, Belle will lease to Macau casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. the land and buildings in the facility for the operation of a hotel, casino and resort complex, with retail, entertainment, convention, exhibition, food and beverage services as well as other related activities.
The operating agreement will be signed on closing and will govern the operation of the project until the expiry of the casino license (currently expected to be in July 2033).
Melco Crown, the joint venture between Macau gaming kingpin Stanley Ho and the late Australian casino and media magnate Kerry Packer, is investing around $600 million in the project .
Belle and Melco will each have an estimated economic interest of 50 percent in the project, which will be derived from gaming revenues and the lease of commercial space in the entertainment center.
This would be Melco’s first foray in the Philippine gaming market, which is forecast to hit $3 billion in revenues by 2015.
The project will be the second complex to open in this area, groomed to become the Philippines’ version of the Las Vegas strip, next to port mogul Enrique Razon’s Solaire Casino & Resort.
Lawrence Ho, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Melco Crown, said the project is a step closer towards realizing the group’s vision of becoming one of the leading gaming companies in Asia. The deal is also seen to provide Melco with a platform for further expansion in Asia, allowing it to capitalize on future opportunities to drive long-term shareholder value.
“The success of Macau as a gaming and entertainment destination has led to the proliferation of gaming across the Asia Pacific region. With our strong foothold in Macau and experience in developing and operating world-class integrated entertainment resorts, such as City of Dreams, we are perfectly positioned to add a new dimension to the gaming and entertainment industry in the Philippines, enabling us to benefit from the anticipated growth in the leisure and tourism industry,” Ho said.
“We believe the Philippines is well placed to take advantage of the increasingly affluent and growing Asian middle class who continue to seek new travel destinations and experiences throughout Asia,” he added.
Aside from the City of Dreams, Melco also operates Altira Macau. It likewise owns a chain of gaming machines under the Mocha Club brand.