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Belle Corp.’s P1-B buyback plan cleared

Listed property developer Belle Corp. plans to redeem up to P1 billion of shares held by the public, it told the stock exchange yesterday.

The Henry Sy-led company said its board of directors approved on Wednesday the buyback program.

“The management will act on the timing and buying levels as it deems fit,” Belle Vice-Chairman Willy N. Ocier said in a mobile phone reply to BusinessWorld’s query.

Belle shares climbed 2.44% to P4.61 per share yesterday from Wednesday’s closing price, near its 52-week low of P4.41 apiece.

Belle shares were heavily sold last year after the company spun off its key gaming assets, transferring its stake in integrated resort City of Dreams Manila and online lotto equipment operator Pacific Online Systems Corp. to Premium Leisure Corp., then known as Sinophil Corp.

“People are more excited about gaming than what Belle has to offer as a property play,” Alexander Adrian O. Tiu, an analyst at AB Capital Securities, Inc., said in a phone interview.

“With the buyback program, Belle may be trying to generate some excitement on the stock and it will be positive for shareholders because management is supporting the shares.”

City of Dreams Manila is a joint venture of Belle and Melco Crown Philippines. It is among the four integrated resorts that will rise on state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.’s Entertainment City complex in Parañaque City.

Despite giving up its interest in City of Dreams Manila, Belle continues to receive rental income, as it has retained direct ownership of the land and building where the integrated resort is located. Belle has also retained direct ownership and continues to develop its other assets, principally its properties in the Tagaytay Highlands and Midlands complex.

– BusinessWorld Online

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