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Philippine billionaire Razon to buy Korean island in casino push

03/17/2015| 3:48:43 PM|

Enrique Razon will buy an island in South Korea to develop a leisure and tourism complex, banking on growth in gambling on rising tourist arrivals from China.

(Bloomberg) -- Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon will buy an island in South Korea to develop a leisure and tourism complex, as he taps the country’s growth in gambling on rising tourist arrivals from China.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp., controlled by Razon and operator of a casino in Manila, will buy the 21-hectare (52-acre) Silmi Island through unit Solaire Korea Co., according to a Philippine Stock Exchange filing on Tuesday. It’s Bloomberry’s second announcement of a property purchase in the country this year after the company signed in January four deals with landowners on Korea’s Muui Island, which is adjacent to Silmi Island.

Asian casino operators including Bloomberry are capitalizing on a downturn in the gambling industry of Macau as China’s corruption crackdown scares many away from the world’s biggest gambling hub. Macau casino revenue fell last year for the first time and may decline another 8 percent this year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

In contrast, gambling revenue in South Korea and the Philippines will grow 16 percent and 33 percent respectively this year, gaining from the spillover of Chinese gamblers, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in a note in January.

About 6.1 million mainland travelers went to South Korea last year, an increase of 42 percent, according to data from the Korea Tourism Organization.

Solaire Korea also signed a deal with shareholders of Golden & Luxury Co. to buy as much as 92 percent of the company, which owns and operates T.H.E. Hotel & Vegas Casino on Korea’s Jeju Island, Bloomberry said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

“We are excited at the prospect of Solaire setting up a base in Korea,” Razon said in the statement. “This is our first venture outside of the Philippines, and the possibilities for expansion in this country are promising.”

Shares Gain

Bloomberry rose 0.8 percent to 10.64 pesos as of 2:55 p.m. in Manila trading after gaining as much as 2.3 percent. The Philippine Stock Exchange Index advanced 0.6 percent.

The company said Silmi Island is adjacent to the 12.2-hectare property that it agreed to buy on Muui Island, and both are within the Incheon Free Economic Zone. Bloomberry will disclose details of the transactions when certain conditions are met, it said. The company on Jan. 27 said it will develop the land on Muui into a leisure and tourism complex.

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TAGS: Korea | casino | Chinese
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