By Arra B. Francia, Senior Reporter

PHILWEB Corp. has signed a P292-million share purchase agreement (SPA) with Palmary Corp., as the firms embark on the joint development of their electronic bingo (e-bingo) businesses starting this month.

The listed gaming firm said in a statement Monday that it has issued 97.33 million shares to Palmary, equivalent to a 6.78% stake in PhilWeb.

“The price per share is P3. This is based on the average closing price per share in the last 30 days,” PhilWeb Vice-President for Legal Raymund S. Aquino said in an e-mail.

PhilWeb described Palmary as an accredited supplier of e-bingo machines across the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor)’s network of more than 300 e-bingo outlets carrying more than 30,000 e-bingo terminals.

“I welcome the Palmary Group’s investment in our company, a great sign of faith in the positive developments we have attained in the past year. I believe this investment will result in positive gains for both over the next few years,” PhilWeb Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gregorio Ma. Araneta III said in a statement.

Following the SPA, the two firms also signed a cooperation agreement that would allow them to expand their e-bingo business. PhilWeb currently has six e-bingo outlets, while Palmary operates 16.

“We are very excited about our future in the e-bingo business in cooperation with the Palmary Group. When combined with our growing e-Games business, we now have an expanding, two-fold footprint in the whole electronic gaming sector,” Mr. Araneta said.

PhilWeb trimmed its net loss attributable to the parent to P10.59 million in the first quarter of 2019, less than half its attributable loss of P28.88 million in the same period a year ago. Gross revenues also improved 38% to P120.72 million.

“I remain deeply committed to getting PhilWeb back to its former profitability levels, during which times we were able to pay out high dividends to stockholders and generate significant share price increases as well,” Mr. Araneta said.

The company was forced to shut down its operations in 2016 after Pagcor declined to renew its license. This came after President Rodrigo R. Duterte singled out former PhilWeb Chairman Roberto V. Ongpin as an “oligarch that must be destroyed.”

Mr. Ongpin then sold his shares to Mr. Araneta for P2 billion.

“We are also committed to our role in consistently increasing the revenues of PAGCOR, which we have done for over thirteen years,” Mr. Araneta said.

Shares in PhilWeb jumped 2.09% or seven centavos to close at P3.42 each at the stock exchange on Monday.