Court stops Okada group from reneging on casino deal

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The casino group is also barred from selling shares and dealing with any party other than Century Properties for the development of Manila Bay Resorts

Photo shows the artist's rendition of the Okada group's Manila Bay Resorts in the Entertainment City in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Century Properties Group Incorporated (CPG) has obtained a court order stopping Japanese gaming tycoon Kazuo Okada from terminating their investment agreement for the development of the $2-billion Manila Bay Resorts in government sponsored Entertainment City.

The property firm said Tuesday, July 29, that a Makati Regional Trial Court issued on July 25 an injunction, reversing a May ruling that denied the injunctive relief sought by CPG after the company filed for a motion for reconsideration.

The newest court order also stopped the Okada group from selling shares of stock of Eagle I and dealing with any other party for the development of the commercial and residential project as contained in its agreement with CPG.

The agreement would have given CPG and another company, First Paramount Holdings 888 Incorporated, stakes in Eagle I, which owns a 30-hectare property in Entertainment City. Apart from owning a stake, CPG was supposed to develop a 5-hectare luxury residential and commercial project within the complex.

First Paramount was supposed to acquire 24% of the firm. However, it backed out from the deal, prompting the Okada group to terminate the investment agreement with CPG.

Okada’s Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment Incorporated previously said that it did not violate any laws when it terminated its investment agreement with CPG. It stressed it has no financial transaction with the property firm.

Okada’s group holds one of 4 licenses handed out by Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) for casino complexes worth at least $1 billion each in the Entertainment City.

Partner’s pullout

In March, CPG filed a petition for interim measure against Eagle I for terminating the agreement, which would make Century Properties part owner of the firm that owns the Manila Bay Resorts.

CPG said the termination was “unfounded and disregards the letter and spirit of the investment agreement.”

The company explained that First Paramount’s withdrawal should not have rendered the deal ineffective as provisions under their agreement called for measures to exhaust all means for said agreement to come to a close.

Such measures included negotiating an alternative structure that would preserve the commercial terms of the agreement, and replacing First Paramount with another qualified Filipino company.

CPG also accused the Okada group of frustrating the closing of the agreement by not providing the company due diligence materials.

“[CPG] immediately conducted the required due diligence in its desire to close the deal for the mutual benefit of both parties, but it could not complete the task due to the refusal of the Okada group and its counsel to provide Century reasonable access to due diligence materials.”

In April, Okada’s group said in a statement that it was on track to open its $2-billion casino complex in the Entertainment City by the third quarter of 2015, as targeted, despite a legal dispute with Jose Antonio-led CPG.

In June, Pagcor Chairman Cristino Naguiat Jr. said Okada’s group cannot operate until they find a Philippine partner as required by law.

“Even if they finish it, they still cannot open it if they do not have a local partner. Before opening they should abide by all Philippine laws,” Naguiat said.

Laws require a 60-40 ownership in favor of Filipino investors when a firm acquires a land in the country.

Okada’s group is already in talks with possible local partners in order to proceed as planned, Naguiat said.

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