Melco Crown acquires pharma firm to manage Manila casino

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Melco Crown, the partner of Sy-led Belle Corp for the Manila casino venture, has tapped a local pharmaceutical firm to manage the project

CASINO PROJECT. This is an artist's rendition of the Belle Grande Manila Bay that will house a large casino, two L-shaped hotel towers and 4 condotel towers. Photo from 2011 Belle Corp. Annual Report

MANILA, Philippines – The casino-operator that Sy-led Belle Corp has partnered with to develop a casino-entertainment complex in Pasay City has tapped a local pharmaceutical firm to manage the casino project.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange on Monday, December 10, Manchester International Holdings Unlimited Corp said its subsidiaries have signed a binding agreement with the Philippine units of Melco Crown Entertaiment Ltd, which is run by Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho, the son of Macau gambling tyconon Stanley Ho.

Melco local units — MCE (Philippines) Investments Limited and MCE (Philippines), Investments No. 2 Corp. — acquired 93.06% of Manchester’s units — Interpharma Holdings and Management Corporation and Pharma Industries Holdings Ltd.

The deal is worth P1.259 billion.

“The Acquisition Agreement stipulates that MCE ‘intends to manage and operate the Philippines businesses of MCE Group through [Manchester]’,” the disclosure said.

The sale excludes the Manchester group’s stakes in Interphil Laboratories and Lanchashire Realty Holding Corp.

Manchester is among the 25 companies the Philippine Stock Exchange has listed that has yet to comply with the minimum public ownership of 10%.

Melco’s partner, Belle Corp., is owned by the group of the country’s richest man, Henry Sy.

Four business groups — mostly a consortia of local and international players in gambling, real estate, tourism and retail industries — have been awarded the right to build and operate casino and entertainment complexes in the 120-hectare Entertainment City, which the government hopes will attract dollar-spending tourists.

Macau-based Melco Crown Entertainment plans to list shares on the local exchange to raise capital for its $1-billion casino project.

Melco has a network of casinos in Australia and Macau, the world’s gambling mecca.–

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