Why San Miguel won't invest in casinos

Posted at 09/08/2012 8:22 AM | Updated as of 09/10/2012 9:31 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The country's biggest conglomerate San Miguel Corp. already has interests in food, fuel refining, power generation, toll roads, mining and airlines, but it appears unlikely it will enter the casino business.

In an interview published on Esquire magazine's September issue, San Miguel president Ramon Ang made it clear the conglomerate will not invest in any casino projects.

"We won't enter that business. If you put up a casino, whether in Singapore or the Philippines, 75 percent of the clients are domestic. You'll be killing off a lot of domestic businesses and contributing to break-ups of marriages and families," he said.

Ang also noted the "undesirable" activities related to gambling, such as prostitution and illegal drugs.

Ang is a known friend of Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada, who has made investments in Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.'s (Pagcor) Entertainment City. Entertainment City, which is expected to be the Philippines' version of the Las Vegas strip, has already attracted some of country's top tycoons such as Henry Sy, Andrew Tan and Enrique Razon.

Last year, Ang had suggested the privatization of Pagcor, prompting speculation that San Miguel was interested in acquiring it.

But he clarified it was merely a suggestion. "That was merely a suggestion to stress the point that Pagcor should not be both a regulator and operator. I did not expect it to come out as a big news headline. It was just banter."

No to media biz as well?

It also appears unlikely that San Miguel will go into the media business, particularly television entertainment.

Ang, who is on the cover of Esquire magazine, admitted he does not know a lot about show business or actors and actresses. "They seem to live messy lives. But to get to know them well enough, you have to socialize with them," he said.

And socializing with stars is not something that the 58-year-old San Miguel president appears to be comfortable with.

"My daughters may no longer talk to me. I don't think I'll be able to do it. I'll just get a lot of ribbing from my daughters, or even my sons," Ang said.

In June, Ang was quoted as saying San Miguel is mulling investments in the Philippine broadcasting industry.