Strategic Industry Shift: Pagcor Eyes $1.44bn Casino Sell-Off

Pagcor, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, led by its chair and CEO Alejandro Tengco, hinted in March at a potentially colossal shift within the national casino industry. Tengco’s statement indicated a desire to raise approximately PHP80 billion (equivalent to US$1.44 billion) from divesting the public sector’s casinos. The goal behind this substantial divestment lies in Pagcor’s intention to distinguish its regulatory roles from its operational functions.

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Awaiting Detailed Proposals

Senior industry executive Mr. Dagtas spoke candidly about the possible divestment. He shared his interest in the prospective sale, however, with a caveat. “We need a comprehensive understanding of the specifics of the sale, its structure, and implementation,” said Dagtas. “This clarity will play a key role in our decision to participate.”

Dagtas also raised a crucial question regarding the method of sale. He queried whether Pagcor would offer single property sales or bundle several properties together. “Our decision depends on a closer examination of the specifics,” he added, confirming his interest in the proposed sales.

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Targeting Selective Acquisition

Despite the buzz around the anticipated divestment, Dagtas emphasized a strategic and selective approach to potential acquisitions. “We are not expecting anyone to acquire all 40-plus Casino Filipino properties,” he stated, referring to the Pagcor-controlled portfolio. Instead, he suggested the group would focus on acquiring specific properties that align with their strategic goals.

Who Could be Potential Buyers?

Newport World Resorts, a property of Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., which is controlled by the Philippine conglomerate Alliance Global Group Inc., could potentially be involved in the bidding.

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In fact, Maybank Securities Inc. highlighted Travellers International in an April report as a likely participant in any sell-off of state-owned casinos. Maybank’s report draws this conclusion from Travellers International’s previously disclosed plans to establish small casino-hotels within tourism estates.

Other Interested Parties

Another interested party in this significant industry shake-up is Premium Leisure Corp. The Philippine-listed company’s president and CEO, Armin Antonio Santos, expressed their potential involvement in the bidding process. According to Santos, if the government decided to proceed with the sale of its Casino Filipino venues, Premium Leisure Corp would definitely be interested in joining the bidding process.

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