June 5, 2014 / 4:25 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Manila's Bloomberry in talks with Japan firm on casino tie-up

* Bloomberry to vie for Japanese gaming license

* Will study further expansion of its Solaire resort-casino

* Opens $400 million Solaire expansion in November (Adds CEO’s quotes)

MANILA, June 5 (Reuters) - Philippine leisure and gaming firm Bloomberry Resorts Corp is in talks with a potential Japanese partner for what could be the company’s maiden overseas venture, its chief executive officer said on Thursday.

The talks are in preparation for bidding for a gaming license if and when a Japanese gambling law is passed, Enrique Razon, Bloomberry CEO and the Philippines’ fourth-richest man, said at a stockholders meeting. He did not name the Japanese firm.

“We’re now working on Japan,” Razon said. “If the integrated resort law passes in Japan this year, we will contend for a license.”

Japan is currently studying legislation to legalise casino gambling. The market there is seen as potentially the second-largest in the world.

Razon also said the company is studying opportunities elsewhere in Asia, particularly Macau, which may open application for new licenses in 2020.

The company is also considering further expanding its Solaire casino-resort in Manila to include three new hotel towers with 1,500 rooms and a 15,000-seat events area, he said.

The planned expansion, which is subject to market demand, would raise Solaire’s gaming tables to 650 from 360 and nearly double its electronic gaming machines to 3,000, making it the largest integrated resort worldwide, Razon said.

Solaire is set to open in November its $400 million expansion featuring more VIP gaming sections and a mall, theater and another hotel, with the extension having a total gross floor area of 200,000 square metres.

The company will add 1,300 staff for its new phase, as it expects to increase its share of foreign junket operators to 70 percent given the opening, Razon said.

Bloomberry shares rose 1.3 percent on Thursday. They are up more than 30 percent so far in the year, outperforming Manila’s benchmark index, which is up nearly 15 percent. (Reporting by Siegfrid Alegado; Editing by Matt Driskill and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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