By Kris M. Crismundo
MANILA (PNA) – Tycoon Roberto Ongpin has offered to donate majority of his shares in PhilWeb Corporation to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) despite attracting five bidders for his 53.76 percent stake or about 771 million shares in the company.
In a letter to PAGCOR, Ongpin said he is donating 49 percent of his PhilWeb shares or sell it to the government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) at Php1.00 per share — depleted from PhilWeb’s Wednesday’s share price of Php6.50 per share.
“Why 49 percent? This is simply to avoid PhilWeb being classified as a government-owned and controlled corporation, which would make the various applicable to GOCC’s result in making PhilWeb’s operations untenable,” said Ongpin.
“My only objective and consolation is that if PAGCOR agrees to accept this donation, I would have saved the jobs and livelihood of some 6,000 people, including PhilWeb’s employees,” he stressed.
He also pointed out that under PAGCOR’s charter, aside from being a regulator, it can also operate gaming companies. In fact, PAGCOR operates several casinos nationwide.
“There is no reason which would prevent PAGCOR from being the largest shareholder of PhilWeb,” Ongpin said.
He likewise clarified that his decision to donate his shares to PAGCOR “comes with no strings attached”.
As of 12 noon Wednesday, five bidders eye to buy Ongpin’s shares in PhilWeb.
But Ongpin decided not to pursue selling his shares to any interested bidders as PAGCOR said last week that it will not renew PhilWeb’s license.
“I have decided that it is not appropriate, nor fair to the bidders, for me to award my shares to any of the bidders,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ongpin’s remaining 4.7 percent shares will be donated to Ateneo de Manila University Jaime V. Ongpin Scholarship Fund, named after his late brother but funded by the tycoon.
The situation has occurred after President Rodrigo Duterte said early this month that he will “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government” and cited PhilWeb’s Ongpin as one of them.
The day after President Duterte’s statement, Ongpin resigned as chairman and director of PhilWeb.
“I wish to state that, despite my deep personal financial pain, I bear no rancor against PAGCOR nor the President,” said Ongpin.