MANILA, MARCH 26, 2007 (STAR) By Zinnia B. Dela Peña - Publicly-listed information and technology conglomerate IPVG Corp. and PCCW Teleservices (Hong Kong) Ltd. are planning to put up a contact center in the Philippines.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, IPVG said its wholly-owned unit IP-Contact Center Outsourcing Inc. (IPCCO) has signed a term sheet with PCCW Teleservices to operate and manage a call center in the country.

PCCW Teleservices is the leading provider of customer contact management and customer relationship management services and solutions in Asia.

The parties agreed to work together to generate business, set up facilities, manage operations and transfer knowledge base into the contact center in the Philippines.

IPVG said the cooperation is subject to the signing of definitive agreements and board approvals of the respective parties.

PCCW Teleservices is an indirect subsidiary of PCCW Ltd., the largest and most comprehensive provider of communications services in Hong Kong and one of Asia’s leading players in information and communications technology (ICT).

PCCW Teleservices has been providing outsourcing services in Hong Kong, Greater China region and Taiwan for more than 10 years. It is the largest service provider in the Asia region with more than 3,000-seat operations in the region focusing on technology, telecom, airline and finance industries.

IPVG, on the other hand, is mostly into online gaming and data center operations while IPCCO provides support on the aspects of local talent pool and facilities to enable PCCW Teleservices to extend its contact center and telecommunications solutions in the Philippines to service North American clients.

The call center industry is an emerging industry in the Philippines, led by the demand for offshore call centers.. From being an almost unexplored BPO (business process outsourcing) territory in 2000, the call center industry has grown by leaps and bounds.

The Board of Investments estimates the growth rate of the industry at 100 percent annually. It is estimated that 200,000 people are working in 120 BPO (mostly contact centers) in the Philippines in 2006, and expected to bring in revenues of $3.8 billion for the year — a sharp increase from 2000 when call centers employed 2,400 people and earned $24 million.

IPVG earlier signed a deal with Singapore-based regional gaming firm Infocomm Asia Holdings Pte. Ltd. (IAH) that gives the latter an option to buy shares in IPVG subsidiary IP-E Games Ventures Inc. within 15 months from date of execution of the agreement .

IP-E Games is the leading online games publisher in the Philippines. Among its strategic minority investors include The Philippine Star Group and EStore Exchange, an affiliate of GMA Broadcasting Corp.

Under the proposed deal, IPVG and its shareholders shall also have the option to purchase shares in IAH or a publicly-listed company owned and controlled by IAH.

IAH aims to become the leading operator and distributor of online games in Southeast Asia through strategic alliances with other online games operators in the region. It has obtained exclusive rights to two top-rated massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) in the region.

IPVG, on the other hand, has the exclusive rights to publish e-games portal of Terra ICT in the Philippine market. Its subsidiary IP-E Games has rights to Ran Online, the leading MMOG in Taiwan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand.

A recent study made by high-tech market research firm In-Stat shows that total online games market revenues for Asia Pacific are seen to grow to $6.8 billion in 2010. The growth was attributed to the massive surge of consumer Internet users in the past years.

In the Philippines, online gaming is likewise seeing explosive growth since it first hit its peak in 2003. The country’s online gaming population of 3.2 million gamers is expected to rise to 11 million by 2010.

With the steady progression of local Internet infrastructure, the Philippines is seen to become one of the most lucrative and highly valued market for online gaming.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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