Business Columns

The Outsider: Kevin Tan and Newport — A whole new world

On a fine day evening in June, I attended a gratitude dinner and found myself in good company and in one of the trendiest restaurants in Metro Manila. It was a celebratory night out for PAGCOR chairman-CEO Al Tengco, the toast of the corporate world for garnering the Global Gaming   Award as “Executive of the Year.”

Keeping us company were Kevin Tan, the Big Boss of Newport City, his beautiful and erudite chief of staff Ms. Jane, the Oh brothers Bryan and Tiger and Zeal 7 Rays Chairman Seonghan Kim.

We also had the chance to meet the two new officers of Travellers International Hotel Group (TIHGI), owner and operator of Newport World Resorts (NWR), namely Nilo Thaddeus Rodriguez as president and CEO and Lance Gautreaux as COO, effective June 1, 2024 who were briefly introduced to the group.

The two appointees of Tan has finalized its year-long transition plan and he is now in full control of the operations.

Good company deserved good food, if not the best there was on offer. And so, it was most appropriate that the dinner was held at Tiger Kitchen, a place of gastronomic delight situated within the sprawling Newport City complex, officially the Newport World Resorts owned by H&H Chairman Bryan Oh.

At the dinner table, I was seated beside Kevin Tan whom I found to be cool, and upbeat with a good sense of humor.  After the customary handshake, I congratulated him for his “excellent leadership, outstanding performance and innovations at the Newport City.” 

At 44 years old, Tan had that look of a man of decisive action but neither cocky nor impudent.  Kevin is his own man, but he looks up to his role model – no other than his father, real estate magnate Andrew Tan who pioneered the integrated township development that came to be romanticized as the “live, work, play” concept.

Incidentally, Forbes estimated his father’s “real time net worth” at $1.8 billion (as of June 11, 2024), ranking him among the ten richest Filipinos.

Father and son expressed their relationship as partners and discussed their trendsetting business practices in a March 2021 interview with The Wealth Report magazine. Andrew Tan depicted Kevin, his firstborn, as a fast learner and an obedient son:  “Kevin is keen on exploring even more opportunities for innovation, especially in digital technology. Throughout the pandemic, innovating through digital transformation programs was one way that allowed us to quickly adapt to the new realities of doing business.”

Kevin for his part, said he owed a lot from his father. “I am very grateful to him for patiently imparting his experience and wisdom. He taught us the value of hard work, excellence in everything that you do, integrity, humility and compassion for those who have less in life. It is very difficult to disagree with a visionary who has a purpose you are completely aligned with.”

Since that interview, much have been said and written about Kevin Tan and his Newport City since it opted for rebranding in July 2022, from Resorts World Manila to Newport World Resorts.

Within Newport’s sprawling complex are hotels such as Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, Hotel Okura, and Holiday Inn Express, cinemas, a performing arts theater, an upscale mall, casinos, residential area, a church, a supermarket, vast retail and recreational facilities, and dining places. There’s even a link bridge to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in Pasay City.

The Newport complex is a thriving community that caters to the lifestyles of the rich and middle class alike. Name it, they have it. Well, almost.

Only Last June 3, Kevin wore a new hat as president of Alliance Global Inc., probably in preparation for greater responsibilities in the holding company controlled by his father. 

Various news sources say Kevin Tan is the concurrent Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of AG and also serves as a director in numerous subsidiaries of the company, including publicly listed Megaworld Corporation, Emperador, Inc., Empire East Land Holdings, Inc., Global-Estate Resorts, Inc. and MREIT, Inc.  

Tan has a bachelor’s degree in Humanities with Professional Certificate in Management from the University of Asia and the Pacific.

My writer’s sense tells me that Kevin Tan, a game changer like his long-time friend Pagcor Chairman Al Tengco, will in no time be able to turn Newport into a premier destination and No. 1 leisure and gaming complex in this country.  For Kevin Tan, the dice has been cast, actually. I wish him good luck.  

(The author is a writer and publisher of coffee-table books. He is also the president and executive director of the Million Trees Foundation Inc, a non-government outfit advocating tree planting and watershed protection.)

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