Philippines-based PhilWeb Corp says it is to “reapply” for its licence to operate a network of e-Games parlours in that country, following the exit of its former controlling shareholder Roberto Ongpin from the business.
The country’s gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), had announced on August 8 that it would not be renewing PhilWeb’s right to run a network of domestic gaming parlours offering Internet-delivered games. On July 11, PhilWeb had had its licence extended for a period of one month, until August 10.
As of August there were 286 Pagcor-licensed e-Games outlets managed by PhilWeb, according to company data.
PhilWeb had come under the regulatory spotlight since the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte made a number of anti-oligarch and anti-online gambling remarks after assuming office on June 30.
In early August, Mr Duterte had singled out Mr Ongpin, a former trade minister, as one of the country’s “monster” oligarchs. He accused Mr Ongpin of currying favour with previous presidents and using his influence to boost his businesses.
In a filing to the Philippine Stock Exchange on Wednesday, PhilWeb said that Mr Ongpin was selling his 771,651,896 shares in PhilWeb – equivalent to a 53.76 percent holding and held via a group of companies – to Gregorio Araneta Inc for PHP2.60 (US$0.0539) per share. According to media reports, Gregorio Araneta Inc is involved in real estate and, more recently, has announced investments in the renewable energy sector.
“After the divestment by the Ongpin group of companies of its stake in PhilWeb is concluded today and after his resignation from PhilWeb in early August, Ongpin will have no further involvement with PhilWeb,” said Wednesday’s filing.
It added: “Mr Gregorio Ma. Araneta III [chief executive of Gregorio Araneta Inc] has been elected as chairman, and Mr Dennis O. Valdes will remain as president. With the divestment of Mr Ongpin, the new management of PhilWeb will now reapply for the continuation of its licence with Pagcor for its nationwide network of e-Games cafes.”
The filing said the transfer of the controlling shares would be in two tranches: the bulk via a block sale; with the balance of 118,500,000 shares transferred following a planned listing of them on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
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"The MSAR [Macau Special Administrative Region] Government is always maintaining its policy not to have imported labour to work as dealers. This position has not changed"
Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance