Melco's Philippine casino unit plans share sale

MANILA Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:56pm EST

Lawrence Ho (L), co-chairman and chief executive of Melco Crown Entertainment, and his wife Sharen pose with a gong as they attend a ceremony on the dual listing by introduction at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange December 7, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Lawrence Ho (L), co-chairman and chief executive of Melco Crown Entertainment, and his wife Sharen pose with a gong as they attend a ceremony on the dual listing by introduction at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange December 7, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Bobby Yip

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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine unit of Macau casino company Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd (6883.HK) said on Tuesday it plans to sell up to 1 billion shares as it prepares to develop a $1 billion casino-resort project with local partner Belle Corp. (BEL.PS)

Shareholders of Manchester International Holdings Unlimited Corp MIH.PS, which will be renamed Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp, approved the equity offering on Tuesday, but terms and conditions and the timing of the offer have yet to be set, the company said in a filing to the stock exchange.

At Manchester's current market price, the sale of 1 billion shares may raise as much as 15 billion pesos ($370 million).

Manchester's A shares open to local investors climbed as much as 10 percent after the disclosure on the equity sale. Its class B shares, traded by both local and foreign investors, were up as much as 7 percent.

The broader share index .PSI rose nearly 0.6 percent to hit another record high. The index has broken through 18 new peaks this year.

Melco, run by Australian billionaire James Packer and the son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, bought a 93 percent stake in Manchester, a formerly illiquid stock with investments in pharmaceutical and real estate businesses. Melco paid Manchester shareholders 1.3 billion pesos for the backdoor listing.

Melco and Belle, controlled by the Philippines' richest man, Henry Sy, formalized their partnership in October.

Belle plans to build an integrated entertainment resort complex called Belle Grande Manila Bay, which features a 30,000-square-metre casino in a sprawling gaming complex being developed near Manila Bay. Melco will operate the casino.

Three other groups hold casino licenses to operate in the area. Bloomberry Resorts Corp (BLOOM.PS) is set to open its $1.2 billion Solair Manila Resorts and Casino complex on March 16, while Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp 6425.OS, and the joint venture between Genting Hong Kong Ltd (0678.HK) and Alliance Global Group (AGI.PS) are currently constructing their casino projects.

(Reporting by Erik dela Cruz; Editing by Rosemarie Francisco and Matt Driskill)

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