International edition
October 19, 2021

“Hopefully if I’m out of the picture, the lightning will be deflected”

Roberto Ongpin selling stake in PhilWeb

Roberto Ongpin selling stake in PhilWeb
Reeling from what he likened to being hit by lightning, embattled businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin said yesterday he would sell to the highest bidder his stake in electronic gaming firm PhilWeb Corp.
Philippines | 08/11/2016

Reeling from what he likened to being hit by lightning, embattled businessman and former trade minister Roberto Ongpin said yesterday he would sell to the highest bidder his stake in electronic gaming firm PhilWeb Corp.

P

resident Duterte singled out the former chairman of PhilWeb, which ceased operations yesterday, when he vowed last week to “destroy” the country’s oligarchs.

“Exactly one week ago, on August 3rd, I was struck by lightning and named as an ‘oligarch that must be destroyed’,” Ongpin said in an emergency meeting yesterday of PhilWeb Corp.

“I am totally mystified by why I was hit by this lightning. I have never met the President,” said Ongpin

Asked if Duterte’s description was accurate, Ongpin, who said he was born poor, replied, “Am I an oligarch? If that means having money, well I have money, but I made it in an honest way.”

The 79-year-old Ongpin also lamented that while his persecution under the Aquino administration has ended, he has found himself facing another battle.

“I heaved a sigh of relief when the past administration stepped down, but alas how wrong I was!” Ongpin said.

But he said he remains optimistic on the Duterte administration.

He hopes that exiting PhilWeb would give the company a better chance of having its license renewed by gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

“Hopefully If I’m out of the picture, the lightning will be deflected,” Ongpin said.

Ongpin holds 771,749,896 shares of PhilWeb, which is equivalent to 53.76 percent of the total outstanding shares of the company. He commenced yesterday an open auction for all of his shares.

“The auction will be for a period of one week (from Aug. 10) and will end at noon on Wednesday, next week, Aug. 17,” Ongpin said, adding that the auction is open to every financially capable person or entity who wishes to submit a bid.

The winning bidder will have the option to withdraw the bid if they are unable to obtain a renewal of the PhilWeb license to operate on or before Aug. 31.

PhilWeb’s license to operate expired yesterday and was not renewed by Pagcor despite its appeals.

As such, the company is forced to wind down operations and is officially on shutdown. It also implemented a voluntary trading suspension of its shares in the Philippine Stock Exchange until Aug. 31.

During yesterday’s meeting, PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes said the company would renegotiate with Pagcor for a license.

“The contract needs to be renegotiated. That is a process that can take a week or two weeks,” he added

The company is behind e-Games Stations, which are Internet cafés exclusively dedicated to casino games.

With technology provided by PhilWeb, patrons can choose from more than 300 casino games, including baccarat, blackjack, various slot machine games, video poker and sports betting.

There were 268 operating e-Games cafés across the country, a majority of which were owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs.

The e-Games network has at least 5,000 employees. In addition, small and medium enterprises that supply goods and services to each e-Games outlet would also suffer from the shutdown.

In 2015, the e-Games network contributed P2.1 billion to Pagcor and over P14 billion in the past 14 years.

PhilWeb’s five-year intellectual property license agreement with Pagcor lapsed on July 11 but the gaming regulator extended this until yesterday.

“I am hopeful that PhilWeb will be able to restart,” Ongpin said.

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