Philweb Latest (update)

Ongpin to auction his 53.76 percent of the company, and Valdes hopes for a fresh start to save 5,000 jobs

Media reports from Manila Wednesday are that the recently resigned chairman of Philweb, Roberto Ongpin, has announced that he is to sell his 53.76 percent stake in the company in what he claims is a last ditch effort to save the jobs of 5,000 employees, whilst PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes said he hopes for a fresh start and is reluctant to start firing people.
The company has found itself in dire straits over a two week time-frame after the new Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted to eliminate online gambling, and was directly critical of Ongpin. This led to Ongpin's resignation, and to PAGCOR refusing to renew Philweb's licence as the company's share price plummeted – falling over 70 percent.
Ongpin claims that his motive in selling off his stake in the company by public auction is to save the firm and its 5,000 employees.
"In a final effort to save the jobs of thousands of innocent people who will be affected, I will sell my entire stake in PhilWeb," he said in a statement to shareholders Wednesday. "I hereby announce that I have decided to conduct an open auction for all these shares as of today.
"This auction is open to every financially capable person or entity who wishes to submit a bid, and I will sell my shares to the highest bidder," he said.
"I had hoped that with my resignation, PAGCOR would be able to renew the contract, and thus save the thousands of people. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and PAGCOR has officially notified PhilWeb that its license will not be renewed and it must cease operations as of midnight tonight," he added.
"You are just all innocent bystanders… the lightning bolt was meant for me alone."
Philweb president Dennis Valdes said that Philweb will not at this point lay off employees because it hopes for a fresh start by applying for a new intellectual property licence agreement with PAGCOR "within the next few weeks."
"Once we secure a new license from PAGCOR, we will restart PhilWeb, which will be very soon," Valdes assured shareholders.
However, he went on to qualify his assurance, saying:
"If there are sticky matters, it should drag on for quite a while. But I am hopeful that we will get restarted fairly quickly — a week or two. By that time, we believe that if we're lucky we should be all done. We can ask the PSE to lift suspension," Valdes said, referring to the Philippines Stock Exchange suspension of Philweb trading from August 10 to August 24 due to "material uncertainties."
Valdes said that if the company fails in its bid for a new contract the board of directors will have to decide on the way forward.
Ongpin interjected that he hoped that by distancing himself from the company it would make a new contract easier to achieve.
"I want to facilitate the renewal of PhilWeb's license by stepping out of the way. The President, he doesn't like me. So I am exiting," Ongpin observed.
Valdes said PhilWeb will be foregoing P4.47 million in gross gaming revenue a day, once it stops the operations of its e-gaming outlets.
"I think we're now averaging about P15 million a day in gross gaming revenue, so 29.8 percent of that is PhilWeb; while 40 percent of it goes to PAGCOR," he explained.
The cease of PhilWeb's e-Games operation will mean P6 million foregone revenue a day for PAGCOR, Valdes added.

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