Lopez-led Rockwell rules out deal with Okada for now

Katherine Visconti

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Rockwell Land Chairman Manuel Lopez said that for the moment the company had ruled out helping develop the Manila's newest casino development

MANILA, Philippines – Despite preliminary talks, Lopez-led developer Rockwell Land will not be forging a deal with the Kazuo Okada groups to help develop the up-and-coming casino-entertainment project, Entertainment City Manila, disclosed a top official of Lopez Group.

“I think we have our priorities, let me put it that way. We have our other priorities at that point. So we want to pursue that first before we think of diversifying into totally different arrangements,” said Rockwell Land chairman and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez.

At the sidelines of the property company’s first annual stockholders’ meeting as a listed firm on Friday, August 3, Lopez disclosed that they had engaged in an ‘exploratory’ talks at the beginning of the year but had not met since then.

“We have no plans right now [to revive the talks, but] we’ll see what happens… Mr. Okada has already entered an agreement with other groups,” said Lopez.

High-end market

In July, Okada-led Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. and and Eagle 1 Landholdings Inc. opted to form a joint venture with Andrew Tan-led Empire East Land Holdings for the exclusive development of the high-end residential component of the Okada-led integrated resort.

For Tan’s Empire East, the deal was an opportunity to break out of the affordable arm to compete in the premium market, which is the bread and butter of the Lopez’s Rockwell Land.

“This is healthier rather than limiting ELI (Empire East) into one segment of the market. The market is very active now. ELI wants to have a piece of the high-end market as well,” Empire East president Anthony Charlemagne Yu said in a statement in July.

The Lopez’s Rockwell Land will be staying in the high end market but will branch into what company president Nestor J. Padilla considers a more affordable sector within that niche, which he calls the “broader market.”

Casino complex

The Entertainment City, a grand casino-tourism complex in Paranaque City, has 4 main business groups granted the right by casino regulator Pagcor the right to develop it. In the process, various aspects of the business — from property development to retail — have been a point of entry for others.

As of now the Lopez Group of Companies is not moving into gaming but has not ruled out the sector absolutely. “We decided it was not in our best interest to pursue at that time but we’ll see what happens,” said Lopez.

Rockwell is also one of the 7 business groups eyeing to bid for 73-hectare FTI in Taguig City that the government is privatizing to perk up business and other opportunities in the area through mixed-use development projects. – Rappler.com

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