AGRIBUSINESS firm Calata Corp. and its Macau-based partners are behind schedule on their joint-venture project to build a casino-resort and hotel complex in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan Island after their candidate for a casino operating partner backed out due to “perceived political risks and other issues” in the Philippines.
From a previous opening schedule of mid-2020, the Mactan Leisure City (MLC) development will be deferred as the third-party joint-venture partner of Calata and Macau-based Sino group has worries about investing in the Philippines, RiskWise Global Capital Inc. told the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).
“We have been working with a particular group of foreign investors for the past 12 months to close this deal.
However, due to the perceived political risks and other issues in the country, they have decided to retract their commitment to proceed,” RiskWise said through a Calata disclosure on Wednesday.
RiskWise said Calata and the Sino group are now working “to create a commitment with another group that wishes to participate in this $1.4-billion project.”
RiskWise is a management consulting company that was appointed as the overall manager of business activities and transactions for the $1.4-billion MLC venture of Calata and Sino group, which consists of Sino-America Gaming Investment Group LLC (Sino) and Macau Resources Group Limited (MRGL).
Negotiations are reportedly underway with the new partner, which is expected to sign up with Calata and Sino group by May 2017.
Calata said the project is already “nine months behind schedule” based on the agreement to establish the real estate investment trust (REIT) vehicle Calata Land Inc. (CLI) last September, start construction of MLC by January 2017, and eventually open the integrated casino and resorts by mid-2020.
CLI will be the REIT vehicle that will manage the Mactan landholdings where the casino complex will rise. CLI will be 51 percent owned by Calata, 35 percent by the Sino group, and 14 percent by Calata President Joseph Calata.
“Unfortunately, due to external factors, these timelines were not able to be met. We feel we are about nine months behind schedule,” RiskWise said.
Only when they secured contracts with the new partner shall the project be forwarded for licensure with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) and Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza).