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Okada, Tan still in talks on property deal
The parties signed in 2012 a joint venture agreement for a residential condominium complex in Pagcor's Entertainment City

MANILA, Philippines – Talks have been ongoing between the groups of Andrew Tan and Kazuo Okada on an upscale residential condominium complex in the Japanese tycoon’s planned integrated casino and resort project in the Entertainment City.

Tan’s Empire East Land Holdings Inc. signed in 2012 a joint venture agreement with Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc. and Eagle 1 Landholdings Inc. for “a majority stake in the development” of a residential condominium complex in the Entertainment City of gaming regulator Pagcor.

Empire East President Charlemagne Yu said the company was just verifying with the Okada group whether or not the casino project would proceed.

“There was a memorandum of agreement signed in so far as the residential component. Empire East will not enter into casino operations. Right now, we are watching the developments happening on the casino side,” Yu said during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting Wednesday, July 10.

The Okada project was roiled in controversy when the Japanese businessman was sued in the US by American partner Steve Wynn in a case involving their casino businesses in Las Vegas and Macau.

In the Philippines, an inquiry was launched into Wynn’s allegations that Okada’s group gave illegal gifts to Pagcor officials while it was pursuing a casino license in Manila.

Okada had discussions with the family of John Gokongwei for a partnership, but the parties terminated the talks “upon mutual agreement.” The Gokongwei group was interested in developing the commercial real estate component of the casino project.

Property sector stable

Yu disclosed during the annual meeting the firm plans to spend within a 5-year period some $25 billion in capital expenditures.

He said the amount would go to the construction of new projects and landbanking activities.

He said the company remains positive about property investments and discounts the possibility of a real estate bubble.

“We sell to end-users and not speculative market. We don’t see any property bubble and the company is very stable,” he said.

In 2012, Empire East had a net income of P235.3 million, a 26% increase from the P186.1 million it posted in 2011. Real estate sales were the primary contributor to the company’s consolidated revenues, which grew 29% to P2.52 billion from P1.95 billion.

Real estate sales in 2012 reached P1.38 billion versus 2011’s P980 million. Majority of these sales were from transit-oriented residential projects within Metro Manila business districts. –

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