Pagcorp for sale at $10million?

Food and beverage giant San Miguel's vice chairman could be a buyer

The Philippines government notification that it is valuing it’s online and land gambling state asset PAGCORP for a possible sale (see previous InfoPowa reports) has triggered what appears to be intense interest from the vice chairman of food and beverage group San Miguel, according to Agence France Presse reports this week.

Confirming the interest expressed by Ramon Ang, vice chairman of San Miguel, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said on Monday his government would study a US$10 billion offer from the local tycoon to take over the government's monopoly casino franchise with Malaysian help.

Ang made the unofficial offer personally and not on behalf of San Miguel in an interview with the mass circulation Philippine Daily Inquirer, which carried his comments on its front page.

"It is a proposal, it is a very interesting proposal. But at the same time we have to study the matter first," Aquino told reporters.

"(We) have to ensure that if we intend to sell something, it is at the best price we can get."

Aquino, who began his six-year term as president on June 30, has said he is looking at privatising state assets to help deal with a growing budget deficit, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) could be sold off.

"The sale of Pagcor fits in well with the president's agenda. Why wait for six years to have 10 billion dollars when you can have 10 billion dollars in just six months," Ang said in the Inquirer interview. "Isn't this a spectacular deal?"

Ang added he intended to make a formal bid to acquire Pagcor once it was formally put on the auction block for privatisation. He said he intended to go into partnership with Malaysian magnates Robert Kuok, Ananda Krishnan and Francis Yeoh, acting independently of his San Miguel responsibilities.

However, a spokesman for Pagcor, Jay Santiago, said privatisation would not occur anytime soon. "It is not as simple as it sounds. Eventually, there will be privatisation, but that is too far off," Santiago told AFP.

"(But) we agree that 10 billion dollars is a good benchmark. If and when we do go through that process, at least we know we will not be getting anything below 10 billion dollars."

Pagcor reported a net income of 29.62 billion pesos (640 million dollars) in 2008.

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