Okada Manila No Longer Interested in Emerald Bay Resort

The dream of a second integrated resort (IR) in Cebu, the Philippines, took a significant hit this week. Okada Manila, through its operator Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI), announced that it has terminated its agreement to acquire a controlling interest in the Emerald Bay project.

A rendering of the Emerald Bay integrated resort in Cebu, the Philippines. (Source: ResortX)

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According to TRLEI's filing with the Philippine Stock Exchange, the deal fell through due to certain "closing conditions" outlined in the initial Term Sheet not being met. The company did not disclose the specifics of these conditions, leaving the reasons for the collapse shrouded in some mystery.

This marks the third time a major Manila IR operator has abandoned attempts to acquire Emerald Bay. In early 2023, Solaire Resort's owner, Bloomberry Resorts Corp., also walked away from a similar deal under undisclosed circumstances.

Emerald Bay, envisioned as Cebu's second IR, was designed to rival the established NUSTAR resort. Plans for the development included a luxurious five-star hotel, multiple pool areas, a diverse range of food and beverage outlets and a sprawling gaming floor boasting 140 table games and over 700 electronic gaming machines.

AppleOne, another potential backer for the project, had previously dropped out, leading to Bloomberry's arrival. However, it, too, withdrew from the deal following a due diligence review and, like Bloomberry, didn't disclose details of the review.

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Challenging Road Ahead for Emerald Bay

The Emerald Bay project initially broke ground with high hopes and significant investment from PH Resorts Group, which aimed to position the resort as a landmark destination. The termination of acquisition agreements by both TRLEI and Bloomberry indicates that while the vision for the resort remains attractive, the practicalities of bringing such a project to fruition involve intricate negotiations and substantial risk assessments.

The reasons behind the collapse of the TRLEI deal remain open to speculation. Perhaps the "closing conditions" revolved around concerns about construction delays, potential cost overruns, or the overall market saturation within the Cebu IR space.

Despite the setbacks, the concept of IRs continues to be a vital part of the Philippines' tourism and economic strategy. These properties, which combine hotels, casinos, entertainment venues and other amenities, are designed to create comprehensive tourist destinations that can attract visitors for extended stays.

While the Emerald Bay project faces an uncertain future, the ongoing interest from major operators like TRLEI and Bloomberry suggests a strong underlying confidence in the potential of Cebu as a viable location for such developments. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos has repeatedly said that IRs will be a big part of the country's constant revenue streams, and there will likely be some assistance to get the project going.


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