Gokongwei-led Robinsons Land Corp. (RLC) is finalizing plans for a new multibillion-peso office complex near the Ortigas business district but its top official was mum on efforts to break into the gaming sector through a partnership with controversial Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada.
RLC president Frederick Go declined to comment on the status of the developer’s talks with Okada-led Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment on a $2-billion casino complex at the Entertainment City Manila.
The two groups earlier signed an “initial agreement” designating Okada’s group as operating partner with the Gokongweis as minority stakeholder and landowner, a statement issued on Dec. 12 showed. The parties at that time stressed that the talks, already extended from the Jan. 31 “deadline”, were not yet final.
“We’re just reviewing all our actions,” Go told reporters at the sidelines of the builder’s annual stockholders’ meeting late Thursday. Universal Entertainment, the parent firm of Tiger Resorts, did not immediately respond to an Inquirer request seeking its comment. Okada’s group is being investigated by US authorities for alleged antibribery violations.
A deal with Okada would give RLC a stake in the 120-hectare Entertainment City, which seeks to one day compete with regional gaming hubs like Macau and Singapore. The project has already drawn investments from some of the country’s biggest tycoons, among them SM Group founder Henry Sy, Megaworld’s Andrew Tan and ports tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.
Gokongwei said RLC continued to expand its core businesses, which span the full-range from residential development, shopping centers, office buildings and hotels.
The latest project set to be unveiled by the developer is the so-called Bridgetown Business Park, where RLC is expected to invest about P30 billion.
“We’re planning a major business park along C5, very close to Ortigas,” Go said, declining to say where the project would be located. “The construction of the first office building at that part will be [launched] pretty soon, first half of this year.”
He said the project was meant to further tap robust demand for office buildings, the bulk of which was being driven by the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, but other components such as retail developments would likewise be added.
RLC is spending P13 billion for the current fiscal year, up almost 37 percent compared to 2012, its annual report showed. It said 67 percent of the budget would be spent for malls, office buildings and hotels and the remaining 33 percent for residential condominiums and housing units.
The company is opening four new malls this year and will expand one shopping center to end the year with 36 shopping centers with one million square meters (sq m) of gross leasable area. Its office building footprint is set to increase by 41 percent to 273,000 sq m.