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Okada group in final stages of casino property deal

/ 09:39 PM December 15, 2013

The group of Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada may be able to finalize in the next few days a property deal with local partners, thus addressing the foreign equity limit on land where a $2-billion gaming and entertainment complex will rise.

Privately held local firm First Paramount Holdings 888 Inc., one of the local partners, expects to finalize the agreement this week.

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The firm is likewise evaluating the possibility of investing in Okada’s local gaming operations on top of the property deal at Pagcor Entertainment City.

“I really believe in the project of Mr. Okada,” said Alice Eduardo, principal investor in First Paramount, which has agreed to acquire a 24-percent stake in Eagle 1 Landholdings Inc., which owns the 44-hectare land in Pagcor City where Okada’s $2-billion “Manila Bay Resorts” will rise as part of an envisioned Las Vegas-like gaming and entertainment cluster.

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In an interview, Eduardo said First Paramount would invest around $8 million to acquire the stake in Eagle 1.

Together with the 36-percent stake to be acquired by Century Properties Group Inc., this will bring local ownership in landholding firm Eagle 1 to 60 percent, the minimum level required under the Philippine constitution.

First Paramount is a company formed by Eduardo, founder and president of Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corp., to acquire new businesses.

Sta. Elena, which has been in business since 1995, is one of the country’s leading construction firms in foundation work, ports and harbor and horizontal construction.

It is also the civil works contractor of Okada’s Manila Bay casino as well as other gaming firms in Pagcor City such as Belle Grande and Solaire Manila.

Eduardo said she first met Okada when he was invited by former Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino to come to the Philippines to invest.

At that time, Eduardo’s firm was already active in the Manila Bay area, doing foundation works for the SM, Metrobank and Belle groups.

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Based on Okada’s previous disclosure, Eagle 1 will issue 720 million voting preferred shares to Century and First Paramount.

Century, controlled by the Antonio family, will get 432 million voting preferred shares while First Paramount Holdings will acquire 288 million voting preferred shares.

Licenses to build and operate gaming resorts in Pagcor City had earlier been awarded by the government to only four proponents.

Apart from Okada’s group, other licensees are tycoon Enrique Razon’s Bloomberry Resorts, the Melco Crown Entertainment-Belle Corp. group and Andrew Tan-Genting group partnership’s Travellers International Hotel Group.

Only Bloomberry’s Solaire Manila is operational so far.

The first phase of Okada’s gaming hub is expected to be completed by 2015.

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TAGS: Business, casino, economy, Kazuo Okada, News
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