Sy, Macau casino magnates gear up for $1-B Manila casino

by Kathleen A. Martin,

Posted at Mar 15 2013 07:24 PM | Updated as of Mar 16 2013 03:24 AM

Officials during the Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. and Belle Corp.'s formal signing of an Operating Agreement for an integrated resort-casino complex. From L to R: Pagcor chairman Cristino Naguiat, Jr., Melco co-chairman Lawrence Ho, China's Ambassador to the Philippines Ma Keqing, Australia's Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell, Melco co-chairman James Packer, SMIC vice chairman Henry Sy, Jr., and Belle Corp. vice chairman Willy Ocier.

MANILA, Philippines -- Macau casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. and Henry Sy-led Belle Corp. on Friday held a ceremony celebrating their operating agreement for the construction and development of a $1-billion integrated casino complex in Pagcor's Entertainment City.

"It has always been our vision to pioneer the most innovative, world-class entertainment and leisure attractions throughout Asia, including the Philippines," Lawrence Ho, co-chairman and chief executive officer of Melco, said during the event held in Makati City.

"We are confident that our Manila resort project would contribute meaningfully to the Philippine government's aim to promote tourism," Ho, the son of casino magnate Stanley Ho, said. 

Ho and Australian billionaire James Packer, co-owners of Melco, flew in to Manila for the ceremony.  Also present at the signing ceremony were Henry Sy, Jr., vice chairman of SM Investments Corp.; and Willy Ocier, vice chairman of Belle Corp.

"We are also looking forward to working with Belle Corp. of the SM Group, one of the leading developers of high-end residential and leisure properties in the Philippines, to bring this exciting project to realization and ensure its long term success," Ho said.

Melco, which will operate the project, will be pouring in $600 million for the integrated casino-resort complex set to be built on Belle's property at the Entertainment City in Paranaque City.

The Belle Grande Manila Bay, expected to open mid-2014, will house gaming facilities, restaurants, high-end boutiques, and luxury hotels. The integrated resort complex will have a Family Entertainment Center, and a unique dome-like structure dubbed as the Fortune Egg.

The casino complex is expected to compete with Filipino billionaire Enrique Razon's Solaire Resort and Casino, which will be the first to open in Entertainment City. Solaire is holding a splashy $1-million event for its opening on Saturday (March 16).

Two other casino licensees are set to operate in the sprawling gaming area by the Manila Bay, a project of the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp (Pagcor). This includes Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada's $2 billion casino-hotel complex and a joint venture project between Genting Hong Kong Ltd and Alliance Global Group.