In a latch ditch effort to save Philippine online games developer PhilWeb Corporation, businessman Roberto Ongpin has announced that he will be holding an auction for the 53.76% stake he holds in the enterprise.
According to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, Ongpin resigned as the firm’s Chairman last week after recently-elected President Rodrigo Duterte, who has suggested that the nation could soon completely outlaw all forms of online gambling, referred to him as an oligarch.
To make matters worse, Andrea Domingo, Chairperson for the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation regulator, subsequently announced that she would not be renewing the company’s license renewal request.
“I am doing this auction so that I will be totally out of the picture and the innocent bystanders such as the shareholders, the employees of PhilWeb Corporation, the e-Games operators and their collective employees numbering some 5,000 people may be able to save their jobs,” read a statement from Ongpin.
Ongpin revealed that the open auction for his 771.1 million shares will close by August 17 while he additionally intends to give the winning bidder a way out if PhilWeb Corporation fails to obtain a license renewal from the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation for the right to service the nationwide network of e-Games cafes by the end of the month.
“I need to be out of the way, that’s clear,” read the statement from Ongpin. “I just want to step out of the way and, hopefully, things will normalize.”
PhilWeb Corporation has been providing gaming software to 286 e-Games cafes operated by the Philippine Gaming And Amusement Corporation. But, its shares have lost four-fifths of their value since Duterte took office on June 30 while Wednesday saw the Philippine Stock Exchange grant the firm a ten-day trading break due to “material uncertainties” affecting its value.
Dennis Valdes, President for PhilWeb Corporation, explained that the company has no plans to immediately lay off any employees as it intends to file for a new license from the Philippine Gaming And Amusement Corporation “within the next few weeks”.
“We are not online gaming,” read a statement from Valdes. “Our software cannot be played from homes or offices.”
Valdes stated that each e-Games outlet pays tax as does PhilWeb Corporation itself with the network contributing over $45 million to the state last year and in excess of $300 million since launching some 14 years ago.