SM Prime to keep gaming arm a separate unit

By Neil Jerome C. Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 28 2014 01:33 PM | Updated as of Apr 28 2014 09:33 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Integrated property firm SM Prime Holdings Inc. has finalized its decision to keep its gaming arm and upscale leisure developer Belle Corp. a separate entity.

The consolidation of SM Group’s property assets will focus on the malls and residential business, an executive said.

SM Prime chairman Henry Sy Jr. said in an interview that Belle will not be consolidated with the umbrella property group for at least in the next five years.

“SM Prime shareholders are so varied. A lot of funds are from the Middle East so some have concerns on gaming,” Sy said.

Early this month, SM Prime unveiled its five-year expansion program that targets to double the company’s income and revenues, and office, mall, leisure, hotel and residential portfolio. The mall and residential units will drive the growth in the medium term while operations in China, and the hotel and office businesses will also contribute to the uptick.

Sy said Belle is focused on the gaming business.

“We will think of a way to house it,” Sy said, adding that as it is, Belle is an attractive company for investors wanting to expose themselves to the country’s booming gaming sector.

Belle is the builder of the $1.3-billion City of Dreams Manila complex in the Manila Bay reclamation area. Macau-based casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., for its part, leases the property and will operate the integrated casino.

In 2013, Belle’s consolidated net income surged more than six times to P3.63 billion from P555.66 million a year ago. Gross revenues grew more than five times to P2.62 billion from P494.43 million.