Friday, January 14, 2011

Belle taps Resorts World for $1-B gaming complex

MANILA, Philippines - Upscale leisure developer and gaming firm Belle Corp. and Leisure Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) formalized on Jan. 14 their partnership with the signing of an agreement.

The agreement mandates LRWC to operate and manage the gaming component of a planned $1-billion integrated resort complex along Roxas Boulevard to be called Belle Grande Manila Bay.

In a briefing, Belle vice-chairman Willy N. Ocier said the management contract with AB Leisure Global Inc., a subsidiary of LRWC, is good for 10 years and renewable by consent of the two parties.

When asked about the revenue sharing, Belle executive vice-president and chief finance officer Manuel Gana said LRWC shall get 15% of net income or 50% of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), whichever is higher.

Sources said Belle is seen to post around P1.5 billion in net income next year with the first full year operations of its planned multi-billion peso casino complex, which is expected to be almost double the size of Resorts World Manila, a luxury casino resort located in Newport City across the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Belle wholly owns Premium Leisure & Amusement Inc. (PLAI), which was granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. to establish a casino to be located within the reclaimed Manila Bay.

For the past three years, Belle has been earning P300 million to P400 million in net income a year from Highlands Prime, plus equity earnings from Pacific Online Systems Corp., the exclusive online lottery equipment provider in Visayas and Mindanao.

Slated for soft opening in the fourth quarter this year, the casino complex will make available 15,000 to 20,000 square meters of gaming space in the next three years with a total of 1,600 slot machines, 300-320 tables and 1,500 hotel rooms.

Ocier said the group is still looking for a partner to operate the hotel as part of its plan to lure more gaming enthusiasts in the country.

He said Macau-based gaming consultancy firm Asia Pacific Gaming (APG) will provide management expertise.

APG has extensive experience managing casinos and hotels in Macau and throughout the Asia Pacific region. It has been engaged by clients in South Korea, China, Macau, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Tahiti and the United States.

Belle is considering tapping the debt market or equities market to fund the construction of Belle Grande Manila Bay. It earlier obtained a P5.6-billion loan from Banco De Oro.

Together with the SM Group, Belle has committed to inject $1 billion into the project over a 25-year period. The SM Group will be in charge of non-gaming developments which include hotels, a sports arena, museum and an oceanarium.

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