They're the most advanced [in terms of negotiations]," Alfredo Benitez, former president of LRWC said on the sidelines of the company's annual stockholders' meeting. Benitez, who resigned from his post after being elected congressman of the third district of Negros Occidental, said Harrah's will likely use its Planet Hollywood brand for its first venture in Asia. Harrah's is also mulling the establishment of another Planet Hollywood in Vietnam, he said. Benitez said the two other interested operators already cemented their presence in the Asian gaming market, particularly in Macau and Singapore.
LRWC and Belle's hotel and casino project will have 100 VIP suites, about 500 five-star hotel rooms and a casino that will have 250 tables and about 1,500 slot machines. The casino is scheduled to open by the third quarter next year.
LRWC holds the management contract for the gaming component of the project, while Belle, which is majority-owned by mall magnate Henry Sy, will provide the entertainment facilities. Belle is part of a consortium led by the SM group that was granted provisional license to undertake the development of the 800-hectare Bagong Nayong Pilipino Manila Bay Entertainment City.
Even before the new casino complex opens, LRWC is eyeing a 15- to 20 % profit growth to about us$ 5.2 million this year after a relatively strong first half. Earnings rose 18.4 % to us$ 4.3 million last year from us$ 3.7 million in 2008 despite economic uncertainties due to the global crisis.
LRWC announced an eight centavo cash dividend to shareholders, higher than last year's six centavos, and equivalent to 35 % of the firm's net income last year. LRWC shares rose from P1.58 on Thursday to us$ 0.03 each on Friday, while Belle was unchanged at us$ 0.04.