PhilWeb Chairman Resigns After Duterte’s Rebuke Pummeled Shares

  • Philippine president says he plans to go after ‘oligarchs’
  • Online gambling company PhilWeb fell by record 50% in Manila

PhilWeb Corp. Chairman Roberto Ongpin resigned after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte named the businessman among those he’s targeting for alleged political connections. The online gambling company’s shares fell the most since 1999 after the president’s comments.

Ongpin resigned as chairman and director of PhilWeb effective Thursday and will “focus on the real estate projects” of Alphaland Corp. where he is also chairman, PhilWeb said in a statement after trading closed. The gaming operator fell 37 percent to 8.95 pesos by the close of trading in Manila, the lowest level since December 2014.

Duterte plans to “destroy the oligarchs that are embedded in government,” he said in a speech late Wednesday, and named Ongpin as an example. “These are the guys who just sit in their jets and in their mansions everywhere, and their money trickle like a taxi meter,” according to a video and transcript of his speech. The president did not specify any actions he planned to take on Ongpin.

PhilWeb has been plunging since the start of July, after Duterte ordered a stop to online gambling at his first cabinet meeting. Ongpin served as trade minister of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and was a former deputy chairman of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper until last year.

The president’s speech was the main trigger for the dive in PhilWeb’s shares, said Astro del Castillo, managing director at First Grade Finance Inc. in Manila. “Duterte is known to walk the talk and always hits the bull’s-eye. Ongpin has a problem,” he said.

PhilWeb stock had fallen as much as 50 percent Thursday, the biggest drop on record. The Philippine Stock Exchange index closed 1.1 percent higher.

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