The son-in-law of the late Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos is taking over the beleaguered gaming technology provider PhilWeb Corp. like a knight in shining armor.
Gregorio Araneta has agreed to acquire resigned PhilWeb chairman Roberto Ongpin’s 53.76 percent stake comprising of 771,651,896 shares in PhilWeb, according to a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange. The acquisition of the entire shares of Ongpin has a tag price of PHP2.01 billion (US$41.56 million) or PHP2.60 (US$0.0539) per share and will be done in two tranches.
Pursuant to the sale and purchase agreement, Ongpin w ill first complete the disposal of 653,151,896 shares in favor of Araneta through a special block sale pending approval by the bourse.
Ongpin will transfer the remaining 118,500,000 shares upon their registration with the PSE. This tranche comprises partially paid shares, which have been fully settled but remained unregistered with the bourse.
“After the divestment by the RVO 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,” the company’s statement read.
With Araneta taking the helm of the Philippine-listed firm, PhilWeb announced its plan to “reapply” for its licence to operate a network of e-Games parlours in that country, following the exit of former controlling shareholder Ongpin from the business.
“With the divestment of Ongpin, the new management of PhilWeb will now reapply for the continuation of its license with PAGCOR for its nationwide network of e-Games cafes,” the company’s statement read.
Araneta, who had investments in real estate and in the renewable energy sector, was the second largest shareholder of PhilWeb. He was elected as PhilWeb chairman, replacing Mr. Ongpin, last September.
But why Araneta is a perfect choice to lead PhilWeb? A company insider, who spoke to CalvinAyre.com, said it has something to do with his connections to President Duterte.
For those who just tuned in, Duterte declared an all-out war against online gambling in July. The following month, the Philippine singled out Ongpin as the oligarch he wanted to destroy. Ongpin, for his part, stepped down from his post with hopes that PAGCOR would renew the company’s license. The regulator, however, allowed the contract to expire on Aug. 10, after a one-month extension.
The insider explained that Araneta will be able to save the company since he’s the husband of Irene Marcos, who is the sister of Vice President Ferdinand “Bong-Bong” Marcos, Jr. Duterte has explicitly said that there is a tight bond between his family and that of former President Marcos.
“My father was a Cabinet member of President Marcos during the first term of his presidency. My father was one of the two who stood by Marcos during the darkest hours. Everybody was shifting to Liberal at that time, to Diosdado Macapagal,” the President explained, as quoted by GMA News.
With a Duterte ally leading the firm, what could go wrong now for PhilWeb?