MANILA -- The temporary halt in the approval of new offshore gaming ventures in the Philippines is unlikely to affect SM Investments since it has "minimal exposure" to the sector, its president said Wednesday.
SM Prime Holdings has "very few" Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) take up, while its residential business has “less than 5 percent” of direct sales to buyers from mainland China, SM Investment Corp president and CEO Frederic DyBuncio said.
"I’m not that concerned about POGOs pulling out because as far as the group is concerned our exposure to POGO is very minimal," DyBuncio said in an exclusive interview with ANC's The Boss.
"You might see a lot of foreigners in SMDC condos for example but those normally would be renting from other investors who already purchased from us," he said.
Some POGOs are under scrutiny over alleged illegal recruitment of Chinese nationals. The Chinese government earlier urged the Philippines to "ban online gaming."
"Strong" demand from business process outsourcing (BPO) and the government’s Build, Build, Build program fuel SM group’s property, banking and even its retail businesses, he said.
"More development, more growth, there will be more spending power so these will help our retail business as well,” he added.
Expansion to the provinces, including its minimart unit Alfamart, continues as consumer sentiment remains "robust," DyBuncio said.
"We don’t expect that to weaken anytime soon and as again development spreads to the provinces and you introduce sort of modern retail concepts there, the demand will be fairly strong," he said.
Its retail business in select cities in China also contribute to the growth of SM Prime, notwithstanding the trade spat between Beijing and Washington, he said. SM has a total of 7 malls in China.
-- with Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News