MELCO CROWN HIKES BUDGET FOR 'CITY OF DREAMS MANILA' TO P37 B

Macau-based casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. is substantially jacking up its investment in the City of Dreams Manila integrated casino project to P37 billion. The increased capital spending will be supported by a share sale of controlling shareholder MCE (Philippines) Investments Ltd., the company said in a disclosure. Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp. said its board of directors approved the “increase of the total budget for the City of Dreams Manila project up to the time of opening from approximately P28 billion to approximately P37 billion.”  The board also allowed management to conduct a share placement placing and subscription transaction, Melco Philippines said. Specifically, controlling shareholder MCE Philippines will sell existing common shares. The company will then issue to MCE Philippines the same number of common shares, which will be listed in the local bourse. Melco Philippines implemented yesterday a one-day voluntary trading suspension due to the transaction. Shares of Melco Philippines closed at P12.18 apiece Tuesday. Last month, Melco Crown partnered with DreamWorks Animation to put up Dream Play, an “edu-tainment” indoor theme park, in City of Dreams. The 2,000-3,000-square meter indoor theme park will become the family entertainment component in the integrated casino project. Melco Crown is planning to start operations of its $1.3-billion City of Dreams Manila casino complex in the fourth quarter this year. READ MORE...

ALSO: DreamWorks project in City of Dreams Manila ‘first of its kind in the world’

MACAU — A great example of how competition benefits the economy is the gaming industry of Macau, which used to be a one-company monopoly under Portuguese colonial rule. Ironically, it took the Communist rulers of Beijing, who are the new rulers of Macau, to break up the monopoly system and grant casino licenses to six competing operators. Macau has since then exploded in economic dynamism, investments, tourist arrivals and higher revenues, making even the former monopoly much richer because the overall economy expanded phenomenally. Macau has not only surpassed Las Vegas as the world’s biggest casino and entertainment hub, it is already six or seven times bigger in revenues. One way to excel in a competitive environment is to join forces with world-class experts. This is the strategy of SM Group founder Henry Sy of Belle Corp., whose family is the Philippines’ leader in shopping malls and banking. They teamed up with Macau’s successful City of Dreams tycoons Lawrence Ho and his co-chairman, Australian billionaire James Packer, through the duo’s Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, to build the US$1.2 billion City of Dreams Manila. In the glitzy City of Dreams Macau, Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks project in the soon-to-open City of Dreams Manila was launched. The project is said to be “the first of its kind in the world.” Due to competition from other mega-casino complexes in Entertainment City, which is rising in the Manila Bay reclamation area, partners Ho, Packer and the Sy family have already announced that they are bringing Asia’s first ever luxury-brand Nobu Hotel to the Philippines. READ MORE...


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Melco Crown hikes budget for City of Dreams Manila to P37 B

MANILA, JUNE 23, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Neil Jerome C. Morales - Macau-based casino giant Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. is substantially jacking up its investment in the City of Dreams Manila integrated casino project to P37 billion.

The increased capital spending will be supported by a share sale of controlling shareholder MCE (Philippines) Investments Ltd., the company said in a disclosure.

Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp. said its board of directors approved the “increase of the total budget for the City of Dreams Manila project up to the time of opening from approximately P28 billion to approximately P37 billion.”

The board also allowed management to conduct a share placement placing and subscription transaction, Melco Philippines said.

Specifically, controlling shareholder MCE Philippines will sell existing common shares. The company will then issue to MCE Philippines the same number of common shares, which will be listed in the local bourse.

Melco Philippines implemented yesterday a one-day voluntary trading suspension due to the transaction. Shares of Melco Philippines closed at P12.18 apiece Tuesday.

Last month, Melco Crown partnered with DreamWorks Animation to put up Dream Play, an “edu-tainment” indoor theme park, in City of Dreams. The 2,000-3,000-square meter indoor theme park will become the family entertainment component in the integrated casino project.

Melco Crown is planning to start operations of its $1.3-billion City of Dreams Manila casino complex in the fourth quarter this year.

City of Dreams Manila will offer 365 gaming tables, 1,680 slot machines and 1,680 electronic table games. Previously, the casino planned to offer only 242 gaming tables and 1,450 electronic gaming machines.

The integrated casino project is Melco Crown’s first gaming foray outside Macau where it operates the City of Dreams and Altira Macau casinos. City of Dreams Macau is famous for its world-class gaming and entertainment offerings including the House of Dancing Water Show and party place Club Cubic.

Belle Corp., the gaming arm and upscale leisure developer of mall and banking conglomerate SM Group is the builder of the casino and hotel complex in the Manila Bay reclamation area.

It will be the second casino complex to open at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s 120-hectare Entertainment City, which is groomed to become the Philippines’ version of the Las Vegas strip. In March last year, port mogul Enrique Razon opened the $1.2-billion Solaire Resort and Casino.

DreamWorks project in City of Dreams Manila ‘first of its kind in the world’

BULL MARKET, BULL SHEET By Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) | Updated May 19, 2014 - 12:00am


The Philippines’ “shopping mall king” Henry Sy (left) of SM and Belle Corp. teams up with Melco Crown billionaires Lawrence Ho (center) of Macau and James Packer of Australia to create City of Dreams Manila.

A horse never runs so fast as when he has other horses to catch up and outpace. —Ovid

MACAU — A great example of how competition benefits the economy is the gaming industry of Macau, which used to be a one-company monopoly under Portuguese colonial rule. Ironically, it took the Communist rulers of Beijing, who are the new rulers of Macau, to break up the monopoly system and grant casino licenses to six competing operators. Macau has since then exploded in economic dynamism, investments, tourist arrivals and higher revenues, making even the former monopoly much richer because the overall economy expanded phenomenally. Macau has not only surpassed Las Vegas as the world’s biggest casino and entertainment hub, it is already six or seven times bigger in revenues.

One way to excel in a competitive environment is to join forces with world-class experts. This is the strategy of SM Group founder Henry Sy of Belle Corp., whose family is the Philippines’ leader in shopping malls and banking. They teamed up with Macau’s successful City of Dreams tycoons Lawrence Ho and his co-chairman, Australian billionaire James Packer, through the duo’s Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, to build the US$1.2 billion City of Dreams Manila.

In the glitzy City of Dreams Macau, Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks project in the soon-to-open City of Dreams Manila was launched. The project is said to be “the first of its kind in the world.”

Due to competition from other mega-casino complexes in Entertainment City, which is rising in the Manila Bay reclamation area, partners Ho, Packer and the Sy family have already announced that they are bringing Asia’s first ever luxury-brand Nobu Hotel to the Philippines.

In the City of Dreams Macau I discovered two Michelin-star restaurants: the excellent Jade Dragon Chinese Restaurant led by executive chef Tam Kwok Fung, who was once executive Chinese chef at the Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok, and The Tasting Room French Restaurant led by chef Guillaume Galliot, formerly of Raffles Hotel Beijing and Raffles Hotel Singapore.

Let’s hope City of Dreams Manila brings these two world-class restaurants to the Philippines when their entertainment and casino complex opens.

Two other unique attractions of City of Dreams Macau are the beguiling, adult-themed cabaret show “Taboo,” which is truly artistic and not too risqué, and the world’s biggest and most spectacular water-based show, the US$250 million “The House of Dancing Water.” Both shows are by the world-famous Franco Dragone, the leading creative force behind Cirque du Soleil.

A new hotel tower plus other new ideas are still being added to City of Dreams Macau.

Executives here in Macau told The Philippine STAR that apart from luxury hotels, the best in fine dining and other amenities, the new City of Dreams Manila aspires to be the leader in world-class entertainment because that is the unique competitive edge of City of Dreams Macau and they also see entertainment as one of the inherent competitive advantages of Philippine society.

According to young Macau entrepreneur Lee Tiong Thay, City of Dreams is excelling due to the competitive spirit and vision of its CEO Lawrence Ho, and Macau’s vibrant competitive environment. Grand Hyatt Macau official Angel Lei said, “Every year you can see new ideas and new projects coming up here in Macau; it’s a colorful and dynamic place.”

Strategically located in the heart of Cotai, between Coloane and Taipa, the dazzling City of Dreams offers everything from the best hotels — Grand Hyatt and Crown Tower — to the most enthralling shows. Cotai is near Macau’s ferry terminals, border gates and airport, with direct flights to Manila as well as other cities. As a dynamic centerpiece of the fast-developing Cotai, City of Dreams has decisively taken Macau’s entertainment industry to new heights with new ideas and glamour.

Macau is the only place in China officially allowed to have gambling businesses. It is a unique autonomous Special Administrative Region (SAR) and one of the Asia’s leading travel and leisure destinations due to its globally competitive spirit. It combines Chinese and Portuguese cultural heritage as well as the spirit of Las Vegas and the ancient cultures of the Orient.

Macau has not only attracted international tourists but also profited immensely from the rising affluence of China’s numerous tycoons and middle class. The middle-class economy continues growing and will soon become the largest in the world this year, based on the World Bank’s purchasing-power parity statistics.

The publicly listed Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. (MPEL) — operator of City of Dreams Macau and strategic partner of SM’s Belle Corp. in the soon-to-open City of Dreams Manila — surpassed stock analysts’ estimates for 2014 first-quarter profit as the flourishing Macau casino business attained a growth of 31 percent, to $387.5 million. That is better than the median estimate of $359 million by seven analysts surveyed by New York’s Bloomberg News. The profit numbers reflect adjusted property earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.

First-quarter net income at Melco Crown increased to $239.5 million from $53.8 million in the same first quarter last year, and revenue rose 19 percent to $1.4 billion. The City of Dreams’ mass-market table-game revenue increased strongly at 25 percent to $1.3 billion and slot-machine handles jumped 45 percent to $1.49 billion.

Melco Crown is currently constructing its third Macau resort, a breathtaking $2.9 billion Hollywood-themed Studio City on Cotai, which a report by Bloomberg News described as “Macau’s answer to the Las Vegas Strip, to capture rising demand for gaming entertainment. It will begin hiring 8,000 workers by end of this year, about six months ahead of Studio City’s scheduled opening in mid-2015.”

Lawrence Ho, 37, son of Macau’s legendary casino mogul Stanley Ho, leads Melco Crown. The young tycoon, who collects art and is a football fan, is also investing in two new Russian casino resorts through Melco and another company, Summit Ascent Holdings Ltd. His Melco business partner is James Packer, 46, ranked as Australia’s second richest person with a net worth of $6.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Melco Crown owns half of the gaming complex City of Dreams Manila and pays its partner Belle Corp., which owns the other half, a monthly lease of the complex. The two groups will also have a revenue-sharing agreement once the gaming complex starts operating. Its Philippine unit, Melco Crown (Philippines) Resort Corp. City of Dreams Manila, will have a total of 981 hotel rooms, retail stores and restaurants.

Estimated to open by September or October this year, City of Dreams Manila will feature 365 gaming tables, 1,680 slot machines and 1,680 electronic games. Melco Crown contributed $630 million to this new entertainment casino complex, while the rest came from SM Group’s Belle Corp.

Whether as entrepreneurs or professionals, a keen sense of competition usually brings out the best in us, keeps us on our toes, inspires us to study new ideas or trends, and makes us seek innovation instead of just continuing with our usual ways and being complacent.

We as business people, professionals and society as a whole should seek healthy, dynamic competition in every field, not run away from it but gain strength from competition.

When will our leaders approve an anti-trust law to make existing monopolies, duopolies or oligopolies in the Philippines into truly competitive industries that will benefit us, the consumers, with better quality, lower prices, to boost the whole economy in terms of overall national efficiency, and uphold the ideals of genuine democracy and ultimately bring out the best in business?

Hopefully, the excitement surrounding the new City of Dreams Manila project and the highly competitive environment of the rising Entertainment City by the Manila Bay will not only boost Philippine tourism and economic growth, but also serve as an example of how robust competition encourages excellence and world-class aspirations. May it also encourage our government leaders to ensure that all other Philippine industries be as competitive and dynamic.

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