Listed property firms recover following Duterte’s POGO pronouncement
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - September 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Listed property companies recovered following President Duterte’s pronouncement that the country needs the offshore gaming business or the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

Andrew Tan’s Megaworld, said to be the biggest office landlord in the country, saw its shares recover to P5.19 per share at the end of last week or up 0.19 percent.

Likewise, DoubleDragon’s shares were steady at P21.60 per share, up 0.47 percent. Shares of DM Wenceslao also firmed up at P9.69 per share.

On the other hand, Filinvest Land Inc.’s shares went down again by 1.20 percent to P1.65 per share.

However, on the day of President Duterte’s announcement on Wednesday, shares of these property firms rose around three to five percent.

President Duterte stood pat on the industry even as China called on the Philippines to totally ban POGOs.

“We need it. Many jobs will be lost,” the President said in Manila when asked about his talks with President Xi Jinping on POGOs during his recent visit to China.

Stock market investors dumped their property shares two weeks ago after China called for a ban on POGOs.

This even as the property giants assured their investors that their exposure to the POGO industry is limited and would unlikely have a significant impact on them if regulators suddenly decide to shut down POGO operations.

Analysts have said that many other commercial businesses that have benefitted from the growing offshore gaming industry in the country would also likely take a hit if the crackdown was implemented.

Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Yuchengco-owned Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. said allied industries would be affected.

“Other allied industries/businesses/individuals that benefit from POGOs and POGO workers would also be adversely affected in terms of reduced sales, revenues and net income,” he said.

Property consultant David Leechiu likewise said that if there would be a ban on POGOs, related industries could be negatively affected. “Those that will be affected are the convenience stores, restaurants and other stores that have benefitted from the Chinese customers,” Leechiu said.

The Chinese government has called for a ban on POGOs, saying that online gambling is illegal in China and that it could be a tool for money laundering.

The Duterte administration through the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., however, introduced the POGO landscape in 2016 to weed out illegal online gaming operators in the country.

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