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Casino venture eyeing share sale

Posted on February 19, 2013 10:20:44 PM [ BusinessWorld Online ]
THE PHILIPPINE unit of Macau casino company Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. said yesterday it plans to sell up to one billion shares as it prepares to develop a $1-billion casino-resort project with local partner Belle Corp.
Shareholders of Manchester International Holdings Unlimited Corp., which will be renamed Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp., approved the equity offering yesterday, but terms and conditions and the timing of the offer have yet to be set, the company said in a filing to the stock exchange.
At Manchester’s current market price, the sale of a billion shares may raise as much as P15 billion ($370 million).
Manchester’s “A” shares open to local investors climbed as much as 10% after the disclosure on the equity sale. Its class “B” shares, traded by both local and foreign investors, were up as much as 7%.
Melco, run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, bought a 93% stake in Manchester, a formerly illiquid stock with investments in pharmaceutical and real estate businesses. Melco paid Manchester shareholders P1.3 billion for the backdoor listing.
Melco and Belle, controlled by the Philippines’ richest man, Henry Sy, formalized their partnership in October. Belle plans to build an integrated entertainment resort complex called Belle Grande Manila Bay, which features a 30,000-square-meter casino in a sprawling gaming complex being developed near Manila Bay. Melco will operate the casino.
Three other groups hold casino licenses to operate in the area. Bloomberry Resorts Corp. is set to open its $1.2-billion Solair Manila Resorts and Casino complex on March 16, while Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp., and the joint venture between Genting Hong Kong Ltd. and Alliance Global Group are currently constructing their casino projects.
At the meeting, Manchester shareholders approved the following changes to:
• Change of corporate name to Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp.;
• Change of principal office to Liberty Center, 104 H. V. dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City from Canlubang Industrial Estate, Barrio Pittland in Cabuyao, Laguna;
• Increase in the company’s authorized capital to P5.9 billion divided into 5.9 billion shares with par value of P1.00 apiece from the previous P900 million; and
• Declassification of Manchester’s Class “A” and “B” shares comprising its existing authorized capital stock into a single class of common shares.
Shareholders also authorized the following:
• Grant of authority to Manchester’s board of directors to issue shares out of the approved increase in authorized capital and to set an equity offering under terms and conditions to be determined; and
• The subscription of 2.846 million shares by MCE (Philippines) Investments out of the increase in Manchester’s authorized capital stock at a par value of P1.00 each, to pay for asset acquisitions.
Manchester was formed in 1974 as Interphil Laboratories to manufacture, process, and package drugs, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and veterinary products. It became a holding company in 2008, and changed its name Manchester International Holdings.
The firm’s “A” shares rose by 70 centavos or 4.96% to P14.80 apiece yesterday from P14.10 last Monday, while “B” shares gained 30 centavos or 2.07% to end at P14.80, from P14.50 last Monday.
The broader share index rose nearly 0.6% to hit another record high. The index has broken through 18 new peaks this year. -- Franz Jonathan G. de la Fuente
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