It’s official: SM, Macau firm form $1B gaming complexBy Doris C. Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Macau casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment (MCE) has teamed up with Belle Corp., an affiliate of SM Investments Corp. (SMIC), to create a $1-billion premier integrated resort complex that will aim for a chunk of Asia’s fast-growing gaming market.
In a press statement issued Thursday night, SMIC said Belle and its wholly owned subsidiary, PremiumLeisure and Amusement Inc. (PLAI), had signed a memorandum of agreement with Melco on a “collaborative partnership in the development and operation of Belle’s integrated resort complex at Aseana Boulevard, Parañaque.”
Industry sources told the Inquirer that MCE would put up to $500 million in the project.
“Belle has agreed to join with MCE under a new consortium to create a premier integrated resort complex,” the statement said.
The signing of the agreement came after last week’s visit to the Philippines by the men behind Melco—Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho, son of gaming tycoon Stanley Ho.
“Subject to requirements by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., Belle and MCE plan to create the $1-billion facility and “enter into implementing and definitive agreements within the next two months,” the statement said.
“High rolling is more fun in the Philippines,” Belle vice chairman Willy Ocier said in a text message.
The consortium behind Belle Grande was originally a 50-50 venture between Belle and another publicly listed gaming firm, Leisure & Resorts World Inc. (LR).
“That’s gonna be a major development for the Belle Grande casino project considering they will have a major partner,” said Manny Cruz, chief strategist at Asiasec Equities Inc. “That will boost their margin.”
Cruz added: “We all know that their project will be delayed for several months because of some funding requirements or probably internal operations. By this time everything will be in place and they can proceed with the project. They will firm up operations considering the entry of a partner with technical capability and finances.”
No definite terms have been drawn up. The SM group has 60 days to come out with detailed working agreements.
Shares of LR and Belle were up by 6.83 percent and 3.85 percent, respectively, to P9.23 and P5.40 Thursday ahead of the announcement of the agreement.
MCE has gaming and entertainment resorts in Macau. It was initially formed as a joint venture of Melco International Development Limited of Hong Kong and Crown Limited of Australia.
Its subsidiary, Melco Crown Gaming (Macau) Ltd., is one of only six companies granted concessions or subconcessions to operate casinos in Macau. Its flagship project, City of Dreams, is an integrated urban entertainment resort with stylish nightclubs, 1,400 luxury guest rooms, chic restaurants, designer-brand shopping, a contemporary casino and the House of Dancing Water.
The integrated tourism-gaming complex Belle Grande is being constructed on more than six hectares of land in a central area in Aseana Business Park in Parañaque City. It will have a total gaming area of 1.8 hectares surrounded by food and beverage outlets and luxury retail stores.
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