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Hard Rock eyes casino, hotel ventures

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://business.inquirer.net/money/topstories/view_article.php?article_id=9 7090 Hard Rock eyes casino, hotel ventures By Ronnel Domingo Inquirer Posted date:
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2007
      http://business.inquirer.net/money/topstories/view_article.php?article_id=9
      7090

      Hard Rock eyes casino, hotel ventures

      By Ronnel Domingo
      Inquirer

      Posted date: October 27, 2007

      MANILA, Philippines -- Top executives of the US-based Hard Rock
      International chain said Friday they were looking at opportunities for
      hotel and casino businesses in the Philippines and Asia, even as they
      announced a multimillion-peso upgrade of their café in the Makati business
      district.

      Hamish Dodds, company president and chief executive, said in an interview
      that the Hard Rock Café in the Glorietta 3 mall in Ayala Center would
      undergo a “marginal upgrade” in line with Hard Rock’s thrust to ramp up its
      global chain, which includes 123 cafes in 46 countries.

      Dodds said the strategy had been proved effective in the United States,
      with profits in company-owned cafes trebling after makeovers.

      “Here in Makati, the franchise holder will spend for the upgrade, but the
      investment will be lower than the $1.5 million to $2 million we spent in
      one cafe in the US, because things cost less here,” he said.

      Singapore-based Hard Rock Cafe Holdings Co. holds the Philippine franchise
      along with a dozen other cafes in the region.

      Dodds said the Makati upgrade would include refurbishing the café,
      expanding the menu, modernizing the music system and acquiring more rock
      memorabilia.

      “At 12 years, Hard Rock Café Manila is an old establishment,” he said. “The
      idea is to make it a fresher experience [for patrons] while keeping its
      unique character compared to any other hard Rock Café in the rest of the
      world.”

      Dodds said the company was familiarizing itself with the tourism and gaming
      businesses in the Philippines as part of a preliminary round of scouting
      for expansion projects in Asia.

      “Our having a new shareholder has brought us more capital and is driving us
      toward faster expansion,” he said. “That is why we are on an Asian tour, to
      look for opportunities.”

      The Seminole Tribe, of Florida, had announced in December its $965-million
      acquisition of the Orlando-based Hard Rock International and related
      entities from The Rank Group PLC.

      Headquartered in Hollywood, Florida, the Seminole Native-American tribe --
      which takes pride in being unconquered by the US government despite three
      vicious wars in the 1800s -- is an autonomous government, with at least 90
      percent of its budget derived from gaming revenues.

      Last March, tribe leaders announced that the acquisition would provide
      diversification of the Seminole’s business operations.

      James Allen, chairman of Seminole Hard Rock Entertainment Inc., said in a
      separate interview Friday that company officials were on an eight-city tour
      of Asia in view of “tremendous growth and opportunities in the hotel
      business” in the region.

      The group has gone to Shanghai, Macau and Hong Kong, and will proceed to
      Singapore, Bali, Seoul and Tokyo.

      Allen, who is also The Seminole Tribe’s CEO for gaming operations, said the
      company was also on the lookout for casino projects in the Philippines.

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