BUSINESS

PhilWeb appoints new chairman as old chairman preps share sale

TAGs: Philippines, PhilWeb, Roberto Ongpin

philweb-ongpin-chairman-share-salePhilippines-based gaming operator PhilWeb has appointed a new chairman, just as its former chairman takes steps to completely divest his holdings in the company.

This week, PhilWeb announced that Gregorio Ma Araneta III, a PhilWeb director and the company’s second largest shareholder, would succeed outgoing chairman Roberto Ongpin, who formally resigned in August.

Ongpin (pictured) stepped down in a last-ditch effort to rescue his flagging company following the collapse of its Philippine eGames business, which offered online casino games via digital terminals in internet cafes.

PhilWeb’s troubles began June 30, when the country’s newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte declared that “online gambling must stop.” The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) subsequently announced that it wouldn’t be renewing PhilWeb’s supplier contract.

Ongpin tried to save his company by offering to donate a 49% stake in the company to PAGCOR but the regulator wasn’t having it. Ongpin then offered to donate the shares to fund drug rehab centers, but the government still wasn’t biting.

Resigned to his fate, Ongpin announced this week that he had hired the local arm of professional services firm KPMG to handle the sale of his 53.76% stake in PhilWeb. Ongpin says he’ll personally pay KPMG’s fee to spare PhilWeb further financial pressure.

Official figures from PAGCOR show the eGames business generated revenue of just under PHP 6.7b (US $140m) in the three months ending June 30, a 27% gain over the same period last year.

Of all the nation’s state-owned firms, PAGCOR is the single largest contributor to the national budget and the lack of future eGames earnings likely contributed to its plan to issue ‘offshore’ licenses to actual online gambling operators that serve customers outside the Philippines.

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