CHAIRMAN AND CEO
POWER SCORE: 1,770
POSITION LAST YEAR: 11
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Heads only Philippine company that solely controls an Entertainment City integrated resort
- Owns and operates Manila casino market leader Solaire
- Building a second casino hotel in Quezon City
It is testimony to Enrique Razon Jr’s business acumen that, at a time when many were eyeing a swift end to the COVID-19 pandemic, Razon himself was forecasting much darker days ahead.
“This year, you can write it off,” he told Bloomberg TV as far back as April.
“I think people are profoundly impacted by the virus and the lockdowns, having to focus just on buying food, spending their money. I think people will come out of this and the savings rate is going to dramatically increase, so I don’t think consumer spending is going to recover that quickly.
“Lifting lockdowns in this environment is going to be very tricky. There has to be a plan, it’s not just one day to the next, so I think a lot of people are under-estimating what this is going to take.”
Fast forward seven months and Razon’s predictions have come true, with the Philippines still struggling to contain COVID-19 outbreaks and Manila’s integrated resorts, while open again, operating at just 30% capacity.
Yet such foresight has served Razon well over the years. The man behind Bloomberry Resorts – owner and operator of Solaire Resort & Casino – has positioned his integrated resort as a clear market leader in Manila’s Entertainment City precinct, recording EBITDA of US$418 million in 2019 on growth from its 800 rooms, 360 tables and more than 1,600 machines.
Solaire North, Bloomberry’s second major Manila IR, is currently being developed in Quezon City and should open just in time for the country to be well into its coronavirus recovery in late 2022.
Meanwhile, Razon continues to wield enormous power in the Philippines thanks to his many business interests, most notably via port-handling giant International Container Terminal Services from which he first made his billions.
He also has interests in power, mining, oil and gas, and earlier this year purchased a 25% stake in utilities firm Manila Water, injecting much-needed funding into an operation whose financial struggles have long earned the ire of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
Further winning the favor of government this year, Razon has been a significant contributor to the nation’s fight against COVID-19 – funding three quarantine facilities in Manila including a large 600-bed facility opened alongside Solaire in Paranaque in September.
While Razon’s international aspirations remain cloudy – the US$100 million he spent on Jeju Sun in Korea in 2015 has failed to generate returns and Bloomberry has so far shied away from pursuing initial interest in Japan – it seems likely he will remain king of the mountain in Manila for some time to come.
For the full list of 2020 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.