Udenna Corporation has sold part of its controlling stake in Phoenix Petroleum Philippines to raise funds for its Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan project, as the Duterte administration aims to put Cebu on the Asian gaming map.
Philippines-based trading and shipping firm Udenna Corporation has reportedly raised approximately $80.4m to help fund its plan to build a new integrated casino resort on the central island of Mactan by selling part of its controlling stake in Phoenix Petroleum Philippines.
To finance the project, Udenna Corp sold 25 percent of its stake in the oil and natural gas distributor to ES Consultancy Group.
Udenna Corp is hoping to open the first phase of the $300m development, which has been provisionally named Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan, in 2019.
The project will offer a casino along with luxury hotels, convention facilities, a retail complex, private residences, and a pier-based skydiving centre.
“Our investments in Udenna Development Corp (UDEVCO) are anchored on our shared vision for the Philippines to become a premier destination for business and tourism,” said Dennis A. Uy, founder and chairman of the Udenna group, in a statement. “We hope to support the country’s manufacturing and tourism sectors, among others, through our property developments. We believe these will ultimately translate to employment and better living for the Filipino people.”
The national regulator, the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), gave its provisional approval to the plan for Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan, which is to sit on a 29.6-acre beachfront plot near the city of Lapu- Lapu in the province of Cebu, at the beginning of May.
Udenna Corp explained that it hopes to begin construction of the first phase of the project via its UDEVCO subsidiary by the end of summer 2017. Due to be the first such development of its kind outside of metropolitan Manila, Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan is to be located 3.7 miles from Mactan-Cebu International Airport and could reportedly be completely finished by 2022.
In March, Pagcor stated that it will refrain from issuing new gaming licences in Manila during the next five years, following requests by existing integrated resort operators.
“We listened to our investors, they asked us to give a five-year breathing space,” said Pagcor’s CEO, Andrea Domingo, speaking at the ASEAN Gaming Summit.
The new development by Udenna Corp reflects Pagcor’s aim to encourage integrated resorts in other areas of the country, with the regulator looking to the central island of Cebu as the nation’s next major gambling destination.
“Cebu is the second largest metropolis in our country, there are cities there near the airport where the local government welcomes casinos,” Domingo added.
The venture is “the latest and strongest endorsement of the gaming industry by the Duterte administration,” First Metro Investment Corp assistant VP and head of research, Cristina S. Ulang said, speaking to local press.
“The message is that the legitimate investors in the local gaming industry are assured of a level playing field as the anti-illegal gaming crackdown of government takes hold,” she said. “The Udenna investment puts Cebu on the Asian gaming map, will reinforce tourism growth in the regions and encourage gaming industry dispersion.”