Belle in casino talks with Aussie, Macau tycoons
- Zinnia B. Dela Peña (The Philippine Star) - June 28, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Belle Corp., a leisure developer and gaming firm controlled by the family of the country’s richest man Henry Sy, is in discussions with Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., a the casino operator run by Australian billionaire James Packer and Macau gambling tycoon Lawrence Ho, for a possible casino venture in the Philippines.

Belle vice chairman Willy N. Ocier said talks are still ongoing and nothing final has been agreed.

The Australian Financial Review newspaper reported that Packer and Ho were set to sign a deal with the Sy family to expand their casino empire into the Philippines.

When asked whether the deal would involve an investment by Melco Crown in the venture, Ocier said: “We’re not sure about that. We’re still talking.”

Belle is building Belle Grande Manila Bay, a $1-billion integrated entertainment resort that has attracted interest from some of Asia’s richest tycoons.

Packer was earlier reported to be increasingly turning to casinos to expand his business as he aims to create a Pan-Asian gambling emptire. His company, Crown Ltd., owns about a third of Melco Crown, which owns fast-growing casinos in Asia’s gambling capital of Macau.

Packer and Ho earlier signified their interest to make their presence felt in the Philippines, which is seen to become a major gambling destination similar to Macau and Singapore.

Located at the more than 100-hecare Entertainment City along Roxas Blvd., Belle Grande Manila Bay will have a gross floor area of more than 25 hectares when it opens its doors to the public in 2013. The complex will house 1.8 hectares of gaming space with around 350 gaming tables and 1,900 slot machines.

The main podium will feature six luxury hotel towers with more than 800 rooms under three brands of five-star and six-star quality.

The resort complex will also contain more than two hectares of retail and dining operations. The mall, with a gross floor area of 60,000 to 80,000 square meters, is expected to be completed within 12 to 18 months.

Belle is one of the four licensees awarded by the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. in 2008 and 2009 to operate casino resorts in the Manila Bay area. Pagcor expects the resorts to generate annual gambling revenue of as much as $11 billion after five years of operation, overtaking Las Vegas.

AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW BELLE CORP BELLE GRANDE MANILA BAY CROWN LTD ENTERTAINMENT CITY GAMING CORP HENRY SY JAMES PACKER AND MACAU LAS VEGAS MELCO CROWN PACKER AND HO
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