MANILA, Philippines - Shares in Belle Corp fell as much as 4.4 pct in the morning trade after it said it has formally entered into an agreement with Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd to develop and operate an integrated resort complex in Manila.
Belle dropped to as low as P5.25, with about 16.5 million shares changing hands, more than double its average 30-day volume. The main index ended the morning session flat.
The stock was hit by profit-taking, said Joseph Roxas, president of Eagle Equities in Manila. "The stock was up yesterday and, also, people are now liquidating some investments ahead of the long weekend."
Philippine financial markets will be closed on Friday for the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. Trading will resume on Monday.
Belle has gained 8 percent this year, underperforming the market, which has risen more than 23 percent.
Belle, controlled by the Philippines' richest man Henry Sy, said in a statement it had agreed with Melco to put in equal investment into the project, which is initially estimated to cost $1 billion.
Under the deal, Belle will be co-licensee and owner of the land and buildings to be put up at the casino resort, while Melco will be co-licensee and operator of all facilities within the complex.
The Belle-Melco entity is one of four casino licensees set to operate in a sprawling gaming area near Manila Bay, a project of state regulator Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp.