• Malaysia’s Berjaya sets sights on hotels, auto services


    KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: The local unit of Malaysia’s Berjaya Corp. Bhd is looking to expand its Philippine footprint, setting its sights on tourism and hospitality as well as automotive services.

    Wong Ee Coln, president of Berjaya Philippines Inc., said the company was looking for suitable locations to build a new high-end hotel in Cebu, one of the country’s top tourist draws.

    “There’s not enough hotels in Cebu aside from those in Mactan Island,” the Malaysian executive told visiting Filipino journalists.

    It will be the second Philippine hotel for Berjaya Philippines. The company, through Perdana Hotel Philippines Inc., has been operating the four-star, 223-room Berjaya Makati Hotel on Makati Avenue since 2009.

    Berjaya Philippines is also preparing to launch the P1.2-billion initial public offering (IPO) of subsidiary Bermaz

    Auto Philippines Inc., which holds the license to distribute Mazda cars from Japan.
    Proceeds of the IPO will be used to improve Mazda after-sales services and settle liabilities, Wong said.

    “We’d like to have our own after-sales service operations rather than rely on third parties,” he said.

    Aside from the hotel and auto dealership businesses, Berjaya Philippines owns the local franchise for Papa John’s Pizza and supplies lottery terminal equipment to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

    Papa John’s has 26 outlets in the Philippines, whose pizza restaurant market is “very competitive” given the big number of players, said Wong.

    Arbitration ongoing

    The lottery equipment business, under Philippine Gaming Management Corp. (PGMC), currently has an arbitration case against state-run PCSO before the International Court of Arbitration in Hong Kong. There will be an arbitration hearing next month.

    PGMC initiated the arbitration case against PCSO in 2013 after the latter allowed Pacific Online Systems Corp. to enter the Luzon market.

    The Berjaya Philippines unit argues that it has an exclusive contract to supply lottery terminal equipment in Luzon, in the same manner that Pacific Online has exclusive rights over Visayas and Mindanao.

    In 2015, PGMC and PCSO signed a three-year interim licensing agreement that kept the status quo.
    “We’d like to get out exclusivity back,” Wong said.


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