The majority shareholder of Philippine online games developer PhilWeb Corporation has offered to donate most of his stake to the nation’s gaming regulator in an effort to save the firm and safeguard the jobs of over 5,000 people.
Roberto Ongpin holds 53.76% of the software provider and revealed that he is now prepared to offload 49% of the company’s shares to the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation for less than $1 in return for the government agreeing to renew the enterprise’s license.
PhilWeb Corporation serves as a software provider for the state-run Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation’s network of e-Games outlets and was recently told that it would not have its now-expired license renewed following pressure from newly-elected anti-gambling president Rodrigo Duterte.
“I hereby donate to [the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation] or sell to [the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation] for $0.02 49% of [PhilWeb Corporation’s shares],” read a letter from Ongpin to Andrea Domingo, Chairperson for the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation, filed with the Philippine Stock Exchange. “I am, of course, assuming that if the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation would own 49% of PhilWeb Corporation it would renew the license to itself and thus save the jobs of about 6,000 employees.”
Ongpin had earlier resigned as Chairman of PhilWeb Corporation after Duterte referred to him as an “oligarch” and had offered to offload his entire shareholding via an open and public auction. Despite allegedly receiving five bids, the entrepreneur explained in the letter that it would not be “appropriate nor fair to the bidders” to carry out the auction “due to the reports in the media that under no circumstances will the PhilWeb Corporation license be renewed” by the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation.
PhilWeb Corporation began winding down its business with e-Games outlets last week while Ongpin explained that he would not be offering his full stake in the business to the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation in order to prevent the enterprise becoming a government-controlled entity. He declared that doing so would impose several restrictions on the company that would make operations “untenable”. Instead, Ongpin explained that he would be prepared to donate his remaining 4.76% shareholding in PhilWeb Corporation to a university scholarship fund that he has already established.
“There is no reason that would prevent the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation from being the largest shareholder of PhilWeb,” wrote Ongpin.
The businessman proclaimed that his “no strings attached” offer would subsequently allow the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation to retain a 49% stake in PhilWeb Corporation or sell its shares partially or in full. He declared that his proposal represented a “final attempt to save the jobs of about 700 PhilWeb Corporation employees plus about 5,000 others” employed at 286 e-Games outlets who have been out of work since the firm’s license expired on August 10.
“I would also like to avoid a scenario where about 131 operators [who are business partners of PhilWeb Corporation] who have invested an estimated total of $38.89 million in their e-Games operations are suddenly deprived of their business and their investments go up in smoke,” read the letter from Ongpin.