According to a Wednesday filing with the Philippines Stock Exchange, Philweb Corp. (PSE:WEB) is looking to acquire 15 e-Games cafes from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) by tendering 7.5 million shares to purchase the properties.
The shares are held in treasury and emanate from a 2013 purchase from PLDT, Inc., formerly known as the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, the nation’s largest telecommunications company.
Business World (bworldonline) reports that PhilWeb President Dennis Valdes (pictured) told them in a mobile phone message that “We continue to be bullish that we will be able to renew our license with Pagcor at some time in the near future,” when he was asked to explain the rationale of the purchase.
“We also wish to support those operators that we have worked with over the past 14 years. Some currently wish to exit the business so we are offering them an ability to exit by selling us their businesses in exchange for WEB shares,” he added.
PhilWeb provided the software and technical facilities for the entire Pagcor e-Games network up until August when, acting to placate Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte, the regulator ended the contract with a one-month extension. Many of the sites offered betting stations and all offered server-based gambling games including slots from a division of Realtime Gaming (RTG) based in Singapore that launched in 2006. RTG is one of the oldest and best known online casino software suppliers.
The action sent PhilWeb stocks spiraling and former PhilWeb Chairman Roberto V. Ongpin eventually divested and resigned after several attempts to give his stock to Pagcor or donate it with the proceeds to be used for medical and drug abuse prevention causes, all to no avail. According to reports at the time, Ongpin described his efforts as a way to save PhilWeb who had over 5,000 employees in nearly 300 branches across the country.
The regulator stayed fast on not renewing the licenses until late December when Pagcor said they would open the tender process up to competitive bidding, and promised to expedite the process on a previously agreed timeline. This, after one of the president’s changes of heart, softening his stance on online gaming, or ‘clarifying’ that he was only referring to illegal enterprises when he declared, “I am ordering the closure of all online gaming, All of it. It has no use.”
PhilWeb maintained that they were not online gaming providers, but suppliers to Pagcor, and that none of their products could be used in homes or offices.