I think the Philippines remains an intriguing story in 2017. President Duterte’s call to PAGCOR to privatize its casinos was a wise decision, although that decision was driven more by the President’s sense of morality rather than a purely business decision.
PAGCOR’s dual role as operator and regulator has traditionally discouraged outside investment. PAGCOR branded casinos also have been starved of capital re-investment as the agency strove to upstream as much revenue to the central government to support its mission of generating funds for nation building.
The value of those PAGCOR properties could be significant, particularly if private operators re-invested and improved the quality. If PAGCOR can appropriately value its casino properties based on future cash flows, it will be able to maximize the value of those assets while attracting operators more adept at operating casinos. The challenge is mitigating any uncertainty for those operators. Duterte’s call to arrest casino operator Jack Lam is an example of that uncertainty.
Note from Andrew Klebanow, Global Market Advisors.
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