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Ongpin exits PhilWeb

Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - June 3, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - The end of an era.

PhilWeb Corp. insiders said it was indeed the end of an era on Friday as businessman Roberto Ongpin fully exited the listed gaming company 17 years since he founded it and almost a year since President Duterte singled him out as an oligarch that must be destroyed, a move he likened to being struck by lightning.

In a letter to all PhilWeb directors, employees, operators and associates on Friday, Ongpin said he concluded the second and final tranche of the sale of his shares in the company to Gregorio Araneta Inc. (GAI), a company founded by Don Gregorio Araneta, the grandfather and namesake of businessman Gregorio Araneta III, who is now the chairman of PhilWeb.

“As you know, after I was ‘struck by lightning’ last August, I felt that the honorable thing to do was to resign as chairman of PhilWeb in order to save the company, its operators and all the employees from losing their jobs. This was a painful decision for me, not only in the financial sense, but also because as you know, I have spent almost a decade and a half making PhilWeb one of the most successful technology providers in the country. I will always have a special place in my heart for all of you because, were it not for your support and faithful service, PhilWeb would never have achieved what it was able to achieve,” Ongpin said.

With the last of his stake transferred to GAI, Ongpin is now out of PhilWeb.

“Thus, as of this moment, I no longer have any equity in PhilWeb, and this should pave the way for PhilWeb's accreditation with Pagcor (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.),” Ongpin said.

Pagcor has not renewed the license of PhilWeb since August last year and the company continues to work with the regulator for a new license.

Ongpin said the top management of PhilWeb including Dennis Valdes, who has been president for over 10 years, as well as Zaldy Prieto, who is the head of Finance, would continue with PhilWeb.

He said he has “no doubt that under the able leadership of the new majority shareholder of PhilWeb, Gregorio Araneta lll, PhilWeb will not only be able to maintain its sterling track record, but will even improve it in the years to come.”

The final tranche covers 118.5 million shares at P2.60 per share. In all, Ongpin has sold 771.7 million shares to GAI, representing 53.75 percent of the total and outstanding shares of the company.

Araneta thanked Ongpin for his “unparalleled contributions to the company since its inception on Jan. 18, 2000.”

“Over the past 17 years, WEB consistently delivered value to all its shareholders, and it was under Ongpin's stewardship that the company became the largest and most profitable provider of IT technology in the country,” Araneta said.

“There is a saying that when one door closes, another one opens. We expect to rebuild PhilWeb’s revenues by renewing our efforts in gaming services and increasing our focus into other areas in gaming,” he added.

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