Resorts World Manila sees recovery, fast-tracks expansion

MANILA, Philippines – Andrew Tan-led holding firm Alliance Global Incorporated said it is seeing signs of recovery in its casino unit Resorts World Manila, following a deadly attack in June, and is rushing its expansion to make up for lost time.

Resorts World Manila reopened last June 29 after it was ordered to stop operations in the wake of the June 2 attack that left 38 people dead.

"We lost the 2nd floor ... we are not operating it anymore and converting that into part of the mall. Of course there was a revenue decline because of that so that's why we're rushing the Phase 3 expansion," said Alliance Global president Kingson Sian during the holding firm's annual stockholders' meeting on Tuesday, September 19.

Sian is also a director and president of Alliance Global subsidiary Travellers International Hotel Group Incorporated which owns and operates Resorts World Manila.

The loss of the 2nd floor casino area and its 6,000 square meters (sqm) of casino space cost the firm around 100 gambling tables and 120 slot machines, according to Sian.

"We're targeting opening the 3rd phase of RWM in the 1st quarter of 2018 but there might be a chance that we will have a soft opening by late December of this year and that should augment at least what we've lost in the 2nd floor," he added.

The Phase 3 expansion, which will be opened in stages, will encompass 3 additional casino levels which will add 12,000 sqm of gaming area. When fully built, Resorts World Manila will have about 650 gambling tables and 4,000 slot machines in total, according to Sian.

Signs of recovery

Sian also does not see the attack leaving a permanent scar on the minds of casino-goers. (READ: FAST FACTS: What you need to know about the Philippine casino industry)

"I think the proof is in the numbers and you can see the traffic coming back. It is averaging 26,000 people a day from the previous average of 28,000 and we're just in September," he said.

Sian also noted that "all the hotels in the RWM complex have recovered their occupancy rates with the Remington Hotel and Maxims averaging around 95% occupancy while the Marriott West Wing averages around the high 80s."

Alliance Global saw its net income drop by P1.2 billion in the 1st half of the year, driven partly by Travellers International suffering a net loss of P312.09 million in the 2nd quarter.

The holding firm, meanwhile, has also announced a share repurchase program of up to P5 billion.

"We are undertaking this corporate action because we believe that our shares are grossly undervalued. Our group has been consistently profitable with attractive growth prospects and enjoys strong brand equity and therefore views this exercise as a means to enhance shareholder value over time," Sian explained. – Rappler.com