Philweb’s shares rise after Ongpin’s offer to donate stake to Pagcor
MANILA — Shares of gaming technology service provider Philweb Corp. rose by 35.38 percent on Thursday, following businessman Roberto V. Ongpin’s offer to donate a 49 percent stake to the state-owned Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).
Philweb shares rose to, and closed at P8.80 on Aug. 18, from P6.50 in the previous day, giving the company a market capitalization of P12.56 billion. It was among the most actively traded stocks on the local stock exchange on that day.
After the market’s closing, however, Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo said that the state agency would not accept the donation.
Ongpin had said this donation was “a final attempt to save the jobs of about 700 Philweb employees, plus about 5,000 others who are employed by the Pagcor operators in 286 e-Games sites.”
“The idea before was that Philweb no longer has value but if Pagcor will get it then it will mean that there will be business continuity,” said Manny Cruz, chief strategist at Asiasec Equities Inc.
“If we are to accept that there are five bidders for the stake for sale, then there is a pretty good risk return trade-off. If Pagcor accepts, then business as usual would support a recovery in valuations,” said ATR Asset Management head of research Jose Mari Lacson.
Ongpin saw no reason why Pagcor — a regulator and operator of several casinos all over the country – could not come in as the largest shareholder of Philweb.
Ongpin added that the donation to Pagcor came with “no strings attached” and that Pagcor would henceforth be free to decide whether to retain it as a permanent investment or auction off all or part of it to the highest bidder. Ongpin had said there were five bidders for the stake but he decided not to sell the stake anymore as it would not be fair to the buyer, given Pagcor’s pronouncement that it would not renew Philweb’s license to operate Pagcor’s e-Games outlets. SFM
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