* Shares finish 0.2 pct below IPO price
* Some investors not keen on gaming issues, tax issue weighs
* Travellers' valuations higher than rival Bloomberry
* Outlook for Robinsons listing on Monday unclear
(Recasts with weak finish, adds background on tax issues)
By Rosemarie Francisco and Erik dela Cruz
MANILA, Nov 5 Philippine casino operator
Travellers International Hotel Group Inc ended below
its IPO price in its market debut, hurt by the reluctance of
some investors to pick up gaming stocks and unresolved tax
issues for the sector.
Some market participants also blamed a cooling in investor
sentiment towards emerging markets amid fears that the U.S.
Federal Reserve will begin tapering its bond-buying stimulus
programme sooner rather than later.
That could bode ill for next Monday's listing of department
store and supermarket operator Robinsons Retail Holdings Inc
, which raised $650 million in the country's largest
ever initial public offering.
Although Philippine companies have raised a record $1.35
billion from IPOs this year, both Travellers, which raised $470
million, and Robinsons saw their IPO fund raising scaled back
drastically from initial hopes on cooler sentiment towards
Travellers' shares closed at 11.26 pesos, 0.2 percent lower
than its IPO price of 11.28 pesos. The broader market declined
Analysts and fund managers noted, however, that Travellers'
debut was hamstrung by factors specific to the company.
"It being a gaming name, we also have a lot of clients who
are mandated not to invest in such names," said Vittorio Gomez,
vice president and fund manager at Rizal Commercial Banking
Corp. "I don't think you can use the performance of Travellers
as a benchmark for the performance of Robinsons."
In addition, the casino sector has suffered after the
nation's tax bureau in April said it wanted gaming companies to
pay income tax. The firms have until now only paid a 5 percent
franchise tax on gross gaming revenues.
Travellers valuations are also relatively high, with its
forward price to earnings ratio estimated at 21.5 times, higher
than local rival Bloomberry Resorts Corp's 17 times.
"The valuation was not compelling, not exciting enough to
merit strong demand on its first day," said Jose Mari Lacson,
research head at Campos, Lanuza & Company Inc.
Travellers, a venture between casino operator Genting Hong
Kong Ltd and Philippine conglomerate Alliance Global
Group Inc, will use the IPO proceeds to expand Resorts
World Manila, the first integrated casino-entertainment complex
in Manila. It will add a convention centre, 1,100 hotel rooms
and more gaming facilities.
Manila is seeking to position itself as an alternative to
established gaming centres in Asia such as Macau.
A 100-hectare Entertainment City gaming complex houses
Bloomberry's Solaire casino-resort and will be home to a Melco
Crown Philippines Resorts Corp next year.
Travellers also aims to start construction of a second
casino-resort in the Entertainment City complex next year, to be
completed by 2017 at the earliest.
In addition to Robinsons, three other Philippine firms will
list this year. Resort hotel owner Discovery World Corp,
appliance maker Concepcion Industrial Corp and Frontier Oil Corp
aim to raise a combined $130 million from their IPOs.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch, CIMB, Maybank
, Religare and UBS were joint global
coordinators, international bookrunners and international lead
managers for the Travellers' offer.
(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)