Philippine casino operator bets big on South Korea

Philippine casino operator bets big on South Korea

MANILA - Philippine gaming firm Bloomberry Resorts said Tuesday it would acquire a South Korean casino hotel operator and also buy up island properties there in its first overseas foray.

A Bloomberry subsidiary has struck a deal to acquire up to 92 per cent of Golden and Luxury Co. Ltd., owner and operator of T.H.E. Hotel and Vegas Casino in the southern island of Jeju, the listed parent firm disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange.

The wholly owned subsidiary, Solaire Korea Co. Ltd., has also signed agreements to buy Silmi island and parts of adjacent Muui island off the northwest of the country, it added.

"We are excited at the prospect of Solaire setting up a base in Korea and of introducing the Solaire brand of integrated resorts to the country," Bloomberry chairman and chief executive Enrique Razon said in a statement.

"This is our first venture outside of the Philippines, and the possibilities for expansion in this country are promising."

A Bloomberry spokeswoman in Manila declined to disclose the cost of the three deals.

T.H.E. Hotel and Vegas Casino is one of seven casinos on Jeju island, a UN heritage site and popular destination for Chinese, Japanese and South Korean tourists, the Bloomberry statement said.

Silmi and Muui are within the Incheon free economic zone, which will be developed into a leisure and tourism complex, it added.

Bloomberry owns and operates the $1-billion Solaire Resort and Casino, part of a giant gaming hub rising along Manila Bay that the government hopes will rival Macau and Las Vegas.

"Solaire is on a trajectory of growth and we are now slightly shifting our focus to other destinations," said Razon.

Razon, 55, is listed by US magazine Forbes.com as the Philippines' third richest man with a net worth of $5.1 billion.

The Bloomberry unit is buying the whole 20.96-hectare (51.8-acre) Silmi island, close to Incheon international airport, and 12.2 hectares of Muui, the parent firm said.

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