Universal, Robinsons Entertainment City deal falls through

Universal, Robinsons Entertainment City deal falls through

After months of negotiations that have dragged on far longer than both parties would have wanted, the proposed partnership between Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment and Lance Gokongwei’s Robinsons Land has fallen through, marking the end of months of negotiations that ultimately never amounted to anything.

The parties had initially planned to co-develop a $2 billion casino-resort complex in Manila in partnership between Universal Entertainment’s local subsidiary, Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment and Robinsons Land. Talks between the two companies have been on-going since last year, which would see Robinsons Land acquiring a majority stake in unlisted Eagle I Landholdings Inc, which owns the site for Universal’s casino project. The objective was for Robinsons to be the one to develop the commercial, hotel and residential parts of the complex with Tiger Resorts in charge of developing the casino. The two initially set an end of 2012 deadline to have a deal on the table, but when that wasn’t met, both groups decided to extend talks into the new year.

But according to Reuters, the two sides still couldn’t agree on a mutually beneficial deal, thus ending talks with one another and leaving Okada’s planned casino, which was supposed to be the biggest of the four in Entertainment City, with another headache to deal with. Last week, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) informed Tiger Resorts that the government-owned agency will “think seriously” of stripping the company’s casino license in the Philippines should the bribery allegations are proved to have happened.

With Solaire Manila already in operation and Belle Grande and Resorts World Bayshore scheduled to open in the next few years, Okada’s ambitious project, which has come under more scrutiny than all the other three casinos combined, could be under real threat of not getting off the ground.

Both parties are still looking at their options on how to move forward, but without a local partner, Universal Entertainment has to come up with a new course of action.