MANILA, Philippines – Roberto Ongpin has revived his plan to auction his entire 52.76% stake in PhilWeb Corporation, after state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) rejected or ignored all of his proposals to renew the listed firm’s license.
“After having resigned as chairman of PhilWeb, and after having made several offers to Pagcor, all of which have been either rejected or ignored, it has become obvious to me that, while I remain a shareholder of PhilWeb, there is no chance that PhilWeb will be allowed any favorable reception on any proposal to Pagcor,” Ongpin said in a letter to the PhilWeb board of directors, which was disclosed to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Monday, September 5.
His latest proposal to Pagcor was to donate all his PhilWeb shares and then for the state-owned gaming firm to sell these shares and raise the money needed to build rehabilitation centers. (READ: Uncertainty hounds online gaming in the Philippines)
Although his stake in PhilWeb is now worth between P4 billion and P5 billion after its share price dropped significantly in recent weeks, Ongpin said his 771 million shares would be worth P20 billion under normal circumstances.
His initial plan was to divest all his PhilWeb shares through a public auction in the hopes that Pagcor would renew the firm’s license.
But both proposals were declined by Pagcor, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s bid to “correct or stop previous gaming policies.”
P1B for drug rehab plan
In a letter dated September 4, Ongpin renewed his plan to bid out all his 771 million PhilWeb shares, donating P1 billion of the proceeds to the government’s drug rehabilitation program.
“From the proceeds of this divestment, I intend to donate the sum of P1 billion towards the government’s drug rehabilitation program (which incidentally is the same amount that San Miguel Corporation has pledged to donate for this program),” Ongpin said in the letter.
The embattled businessman said he is “in discussions with several investment banking firms who I intend to retain for this purpose, since I am presently in Europe and will not return to Manila until several weeks from now.”
Ongpin said he is left no option but to divest from PhilWeb in order to save the company and its employees.
“It is heartbreaking for me to in effect abandon PhilWeb and all of its directors and employees who have, over the past 16 years, helped me grow it to be a successful and profitable enterprise,” the businessman said.
“Regrettably, it appears that I have no other choice but to totally exit from the company for it to have a chance to survive,” he added.
Duterte named Ongpin as one of the “oligarchs” his administration wants to destroy. (READ: Ongpin to sell his entire 53.76% stake in PhilWeb)
Pagcor Chairperson Andrea Domingo said in a Senate hearing in August that there will be no renewal of online gaming licenses until the state firm updates its policies.
“Before, we were indiscriminate. We allow stations where the masses are – who actually cannot afford to wager. Now, we don’t want that,” Domingo said.
Pagcor is expecting a foregone annual revenue of about P10 billion due to the non-renewal of licenses of online gaming. – Rappler.com
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