Alejandro Tengco (pictured in a file photo), chairman and chief executive of the Philippine casino regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), has told GGRAsia it has already had “numerous” expressions of interest regarding the selling off of state-owned Casino Filipino gaming venues.
We have had “numerous” approaches “at this point in time,” said the Pagcor boss. He was speaking on the sidelines of Tuesday’s opening ceremony for Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia 2023 Special Edition: Singapore.
“We are looking at about the middle of 2025” for the process, he added.
In late March, Mr Tengco had announced the body was looking to raise circa PHP80 billion (US$1.42 billion at current exchange rates) from the sale of its public-sector casinos, citing a wish to split regulatory from operating functions.
Brokerage Maybank Securities Inc said in commentary in April that 43 venues were potentially involved in such a sale. But the institution warned that the Philippine authorities’ total estimated valuation for those sites was “steep”, as suggested by some other analysts, and that prospective buyers were likely to face “high costs for rehabilitation and integration” of supporting technology.
On Tuesday, Mr Tengco told GGRAsia there have been “so many groups – foreign and local groups – [that] have already expressed interest”.
Regarding suitors for any such sell-off, the Pagcor chairman stated: “I told them that we’re not that ready to entertain [bids].”
Asked whether the government was looking to sell off Casino Filipino assets individually, or as a group, Mr Tengco said: “The idea as of now, is to sell it as a bundled thing. Because we have to be very fair.”
He added, referring to the Casino Filipino network of venues: “All the casinos are doing okay, but” not all “are doing as well as the others… So, the idea is to bundle them.”
Hakan Dagtas, chief operating officer of Philippine casino and leisure complex Newport World Resorts in the capital Manila, recently told GGRAsia that its operator would be “interested” in acquiring state-owned casinos in the country if the government moves forward with a plan to sell them.
The Philippines’ Finance Secretary, Benjamin Diokno, has previously said proceeds from privatisation of state-owned casinos could be used for the planned national development initiative known as the Maharlika Investment Fund.
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