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Belle plans to develop property near City of Dreams Manila

MANILA, Philippines – Belle Corp. is looking at developing a 9,000 square meter property located near the City of Dreams Manila in Entertainment City.

“We have a 9,000 sqm property, a stone’s throw away from City of Dreams, that could be the site of another project in the future – real estate or hopefully, if other opportunities develop, maybe there could be some gaming content with Pagcor’s permission, of course,” Belle chief finance officer Manuel Gana told ANC.

Asked if this could be an expansion of City of Dreams, Gana said the property is not adjacent to the casino-resort. “We would need land acquisitions to do that (expansion of City of Dreams). But we’ll see,” he said.

Belle leases the property, where City of Dreams Manila stands, to a local unit of Melco Crown Entertainment.

While the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has said it would not issue casino licenses until Entertainment City is fully developed, Belle remains interested in any future casino licenses.

“If they (Pagcor) change their minds, we would be interested,” Gana said, noting the two remaining casino-projects are expected to start operating in 2018.

Also, Gana said the company would also be keen on bidding for casinos operated by Pagcor in the provinces.

“We’re interested in bidding for any casinos outside Metro Manila, but Pagcor hasn’t made that decision yet,” he said.

However, he said Belle has no plans of expanding overseas, unlike rival Bloomberry which is expanding in South Korea.

Gana is bullish about the gaming sector in the Philippines, which has attracted local and foreign tourists, mainly from Southeast Asia and South Korea.

“It’s very robust. I’ve seen estimates, it’s doubled in 5 years, roughly $800 million per annum in gross gaming revenues in 2009, and for 2014 it was estimated at $2 billion. Depending on which analyst, it could be $2.4 billion or $3 billion this year… that’s pretty good growth,” he said.

The Belle official noted City of Dreams Manila, which formally opened last February, is meeting expectations.

“It’s within expectations. We expect to gather steam as the year progresses. We’re very excited about it,” Gana said, noting that it expects to attract VIP customers in the second quarter.

Belle is setting aside P3 billion in capital expenditures for 2015, lower than the roughly P5 billion alloted last year.

“We’ve had two consecutive explosive years, and we’re optimistic we could have another good year for 2015,” Gana said.

– With Michelle Ong, ANC and Cathy Rose Garcia,

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