Financial backer looking for investors for Cebu casino plan

The potential investor and co-ordinator for a casino project on the Philippine holiday island of Cebu (pictured) is still seeking to raise sufficient funds to complete its financial commitment to the scheme. The information was included in a filing from Calata Corp to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Thursday.

Calata is a listed agricultural products firm which had been announced – in August 2016 – as an investor in the land portion of the casino scheme. The company sent a letter to the bourse on Thursday giving an update on the project.

The Philippines-based company had previously stated that a partnership with entities called Sino-America Gaming Investment Group LLC and Macau Resources Group Ltd (MRG) would seek – pending funding – to establish a real estate investment trust (REIT) for the project, a venture to be called Mactan Leisure City.

According to Thursday’s letter, the financial commitment for the project “was anticipated to be formalised by June 2017”. But the project co-ordinator informed Calata – in a separate letter dated June 30 – that more time was needed to raise funds for the project.

The second letter was from Michael Foxman, chief executive of RiskWise Global Capital Group LLC. Calata said in its covering letter to the bourse that RiskWise was arranging the “real estate development, project planning, financing, construction and ongoing activities” for land held by Calata’s unit, Calata Land Inc.

“I wish to advise that my group remains committed to moving forward with the Calata share purchase and to the development of the Mactan Leisure City development, and of course the other undertakings we have been discussing,” said Mr Foxman in the letter to Calata.

The businessman said RiskWise had now been “working on self-financing” the Cebu project. Mr Foxman said that once the company was able to complete the sale of a proposed development project in Australia, it would have “ample capacity” to finance the casino scheme in the Philippines.

“We are quite literally waiting for the Australian state and federal governments to approve our project and then I am ready to cash out,” said Mr Foxman.

In March, RiskWise had said that a group of potential investors in the Philippines project had dropped out because of “perceived political risks and other issues in the country”.

In the latest letter, Mr Foxman’s firm said it has “been managing other stakeholders who of course are/were planning to join me on our Philippines business”.

Mr Foxman added however that some recent events in the Philippines have “alarmed” RiskWise’s strategic partners. He cited the “increase in Islamic terrorism” in the southern Philippine city of Marawi, as well as the deadly attack at Resorts World Manila casino resort and the ousting of Japanese gaming entrepreneur Kazuo Okada as chairman of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, the promoter of the Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), the country’s gaming regulator, has meanwhile approved a provisional licence for local firm Udenna Corp to build a casino resort at Lapu-Lapu City, on the island of Mactan in Cebu province. The casino, retail complex and hotels are scheduled to open as early as 2019, with the remaining facilities completed by 2022, according to Udenna.