Leisure estate and gaming group Belle Corp. has submitted a proposal to the Melco group to expand the existing City of Dreams Manila (CoD Manila) integrated gaming resort using a one-hectare land adjacent to the property.
In a press chat after the company’s stockholders meeting on Monday, Belle president Manuel Gana said the 6.2-hectare CoD Manila, which has over 900 hotel rooms, would need to build more rooms and amenities as it was now running at close to full capacity at over 90 percent occupancy rate.
Based on Belle’s proposal, the additional one-hectare lot long-held by the group beside the CoD Manila site would be used mainly to create new non-gaming facilities. Aside from hotel rooms, Gana noted that the existing resort only had one ballroom and one swimming pool at present.
Asked on the prospective timing for CoD Manila’s expansion, Gana said: “The ball is in Melco’s court. They have a lot of things on their plate.”
Recently, Melco has been doing the groundwork in Japan, a territory where the mass market in gaming is seen to have the potential to eclipse Macau’s.
In case Melco declines to invest on CoD Manila expansion, Gana said Belle would be “free to do something else.” “We can build our own hotel and capitalize on City of Dreams clientele but we prefer Melco to get involved so it can be consolidated into City of Dreams,” he added.
Over the long term, Gana said Belle would consider other expansion opportunities. If the state-run Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) were to privatize some of its operating assets, Gana said Belle would be interested. He noted that Pagcor’s casinos in places like Davao and Laoag were attractive.
Pagcor has also imposed a moratorium on the building of new casinos. But when the time comes for Pagcor to consider issuing new licenses, he said Belle would be interested to build on a second site.
Meanwhile, Belle still has 800 hectares of landbank in Southern Luzon, including the areas within Tagaytay Highlands, which would allow the company to develop new projects within the next five to 10 years.
In the first quarter, Belle reported that consolidated net profit grew by 10 percent year-on-year to P857 million on higher gaming and real estate revenues. Excluding one-off items, recurring net income for the quarter rose by 17 percent year-on-year to P888 million.
Through its 78.7-percent owned subsidiary, Premium Leisure Corporation (PLC), the company’s cash flow as measured by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) from its share of gaming operations of CoD Manila increased by 8 percent to P474 million for the first quarter.
Belle also booked higher operating income from its real estate businesses of P571 million for the quarter, a 27-percent increase year-on-year mostly as landlord of CoDManila as well as the sale of real estate products and property management activities at its Tagaytay Highlands and Midlands residential and leisure complexes south of Metro Manila.