9 Enrique Razon Jr
CHAIRMAN AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,655
POSITION LAST YEAR: 9
CLAIMS TO FAME
Owns and operates Manila casino market leader Solaire
Only Filipino with full control of an Entertainment City integrated resort
Building a Quezon City casino, active in Korea, interested in Japan and Argentina
Enrique Razon often boasts that he wants to do business where others fear to tread. In Manila, though, he’s where everyone wants to be and Razon is thriving.
In March, Solaire celebrated its fifth anniversary as the first casino in Entertainment City, the Philippine capital’s attempt to create its own Cotai Strip on the shores of Manila Bay. Solaire’s Paul Steelman-designed first phase set new standards for the market, particularly with the mass gaming floor and mezzanine level VIP area. Sky Tower, opened in late 2014, upped the ante, featuring a dramatic double waterfall in its atrium, 312 boutique suites, additional VIP space including an exclusive Chinese restaurant and Macallan Whisky and Cigar Bar, plus retail space for the likes of Givenchy and a 1,760-seat theater.
Solaire, part of Manila-listed Bloomberry Resorts, competes internationally while serving up an aspirational yet accommodating environment for the fast growing Philippine market. Watch the crowds filing out of a Broadway musical’s international touring company performance and you’ll see Manila’s upper middle class on parade.
After an initial shakedown that included removing William Weidner’s Global Gaming Asset Management (GGAM) as property manager, Solaire became Manila’s market leader. Two more Entertainment City IRs have brought the benefits of clustering, raising the Philippine capital’s profile on the regional map and elbowing away local casino alternatives. Completion of a toll road link to the airport has solidified Solaire’s appeal. Going into the home stretch of 2018, the resort is on track to break US$1 billion in revenue.
In June, Bloomberry bought Solaire’s 16-hectare (39.5-acre) bayfront site from regulator and Entertainment City master developer Pagcor for Php37.33 billion (US$700 million). The purchase includes space for Solaire’s second phase expansion. Bloomberry also has a 15,676-square meter (168,674 square foot) site in northern Metro Manila’s Quezon City, the significant population center most distant from Entertainment City. Razon says construction on the estimated Php20 billion casino hotel will begin next year, with a projected 2022 completion date.
Razon, who owns 65.6% of Bloomberry, has expressed interest in casino opportunities in Argentina and Japan – International Container Terminal Service, the business that made him a billionaire, ran the port in Okinawa – and is active in Korea, the Philippines’ biggest feeder market for visitors. Bloomberry has beachfront land in Incheon’s Free Economic Zone, where three IRs are under development. It didn’t bid for an IR license when they were tendered but says it nevertheless plans to develop the property for tourism, and an IR license remains available.
In 2015, Bloomberry acquired Jeju Sun, a city casino hotel on Korea’s popular holiday island offering visa-free entry for mainland Chinese. Bloomberry immediately renovated and expanded the gaming area and this October began a US$15 million upgrade of the guest rooms, anticipating the debut of US$1 billion-plus Jeju Dream Tower down the road next year. The island annually welcomes more than 13 million Korean travelers who can’t gamble there, but sure can in Manila.
For the full list of 2018 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.