Philippine billionaire buys Korean island for casino resort

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Philippine billionaire buys Korean island for casino resort

Philippine billionaire Enrique Razon will buy an island in Korea to develop a leisure and tourism complex to take advantage of the country’s rising tourist arrivals from China.

Bloomberry Resorts, controlled by Razon and a casino operator in Manila, will buy the 21-hectare (52-acre) Silmi Island through its Solaire Korea unit, according to a Philippine Stock Exchange filing on Tuesday.

It’s Bloomberry’s second announcement of a property purchase in the country this year after the company signed in January four deals with landowners on Korea’s Muui Island, which is adjacent to Silmi Island.

Asian casino operators including Bloomberry are capitalizing on a downturn in the gambling industry of Macau as China’s corruption crackdown scares many away from the world’s biggest gambling hub. Macau casino revenues fell last year and may decline another 8 percent this year, according to analysts surveyed.

In contrast, gambling revenues in Korea and the Philippines will grow 16 percent and 33 percent respectively this year, gaining from the spillover of Chinese gamblers, Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in January.

About 6.1 million mainland travelers came to Korea last year, an increase of 42 percent, according to data from the Korea Tourism Organization.

Solaire Korea also signed a deal with shareholders of Golden & Luxury Company to buy as much as 92 percent of the company, which owns and operates T.H.E. Hotel & Vegas Casino on Korea’s Jeju Island, Bloomberry said in a separate statement on Tuesday.

“We are excited at the prospect of Solaire setting up a base in Korea,” Razon said in the statement. “This is our first venture outside of the Philippines, and the possibilities for expansion in this country are promising.”

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