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Melco, Galaxy eye Manila

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image Lawrence Ho plans to invest in a Manila casino project

Local gaming operator Melco Crown Entertainment may invest at least USD 1 billion (MOP 8 billion) in a Manila casino project, the Philippines’s top gambling regulator said yesterday.
The company, co-owned by Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, son of casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun, and Australian billionaire James Packer, is “very interested” in the entertainment complex the government plans to build in the capital, Cristino Naguiat told Reuters.
The chairman of the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. said he met with Melco officials last week in Manila but was not aware whether or not the company was looking for local partners.
Naguiat added that another Macau operator, Galaxy Entertainment Group had also expressed interest in the project. He revealed that the Hong Kong-listed company “could be” in discussions with Philippine property developer Belle Corp.
Belle Corp, controlled by the country’s richest man Henry Sy, received one of the four licenses awarded by the Philippines in 2008 and 2009 to operate casinos in the Manila gambling and entertainment complex.
The company is building Belle Grande Manila Bay, a casino estimated to cost around MOP 140 million, with 250,000 square metros of gross floor area and nearly 20,000 square metres of gaming space.
But Belle Corp. is already in negotiations with Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp to acquire the rights to additional land to build a second casino project.
Each Philippine licensee agreed to invest USD 1 billion over five years, Naguiat said at that time. Two other licences were given to Philippine ports magnate Enrique Razon’s Bloombury Investments Holding Inc. and a venture between Genting Malaysia Bhd and Alliance Global Group Inc.
Melco is currently working with seven banks to arrange a loan of about MOP 10 billion to fund its Macau Studio City resort project in Cotai. Galaxy opened its resort in Cotai last May but Galaxy Macau only takes up one third of the area granted by the government.

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