Pagcor still waiting for Okada’s group to settle land ownership issue

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06:47 PM February 19th, 2013

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By: Maila Ager, February 19th, 2013 06:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.  (Pagcor) is still waiting for Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada’s group to settle the land ownership issue in its project for Entertainment City pending negotiations with  local partner Robinsons Land Corp.

Until the issue is resolved, Pagcor vice president  Francis Hernando reiterated that Okada’s  Tiger  Resort Leisure  and Entertainment  Inc. (TRLEI) will not be allowed  to operate a casino in Pagcor’s Entertainment City project.

“As they reported, they are talking to Robinson’s Land so they have formally notified us that they are in discussions. So we’re also waiting,” Hernando told the hearing of the Senate committee on games and amusement on Tuesday.

The land in question is a property owned by Eagle  1 Landholding  Inc. (ELI) , which has a contract lease with TRLEI, one of Pagcor’s licensees for the Entertainment City project.

But ELI, which Okada’s group would reportedly use to build a complex inside the Entertainment City, is allegedly 64-percent foreign owned and therefore  not qualified to  own land in the country.

Pagcor hopes that with Robinsons’ partnership with  Okada’s  group, the land ownership issue would be resolved.

“Our understanding is that is going to be part of the solution, the entry of Robinsons Land into both Tiger and the landholding companies. So we’re giving them a chance to finish those negotiations,” Hernando said.

TRLEI’s general manager Masahiro Terada,  told the same hearing, however, that they extended for another month their  original January 31, 2013 deadline to complete their  negotiations with  Robinsons.

And Pagcor was not bothered by all  by  the delay of negotiations between the  two  groups.

“That is their target. That is not our target. As far as we’re concerned, if they can’t resolve the land issue, and we’re not putting a date on that, then they cannot open the casino,”  Hernando said.

Asked if Pagcor is  being “lax” with Okada’s group,  the official said, “No, actually I’m not sure ‘lax’ is the right word. As early as last year, we’ve already written to them that unless they solve their land issue, then we will not allow the casino to open. That’s as much as we can say.”

“They can take their time, because that’s a business decision to choose their partner well and to do due diligence and have their partner. That’s something that they, as a private enterprise, are entitled to. But as far as we’re concerned, they cannot open the casino unless they resolve the land issue. And we’ve already notified them formally last year,” Hernando added.

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