[Updated] Philippines’ NBI probes Robbie Antonio over Revolution Precrafted’s dubious deals

Robbie Antonio, Founder, Revolution Precrafted

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include Revolution Precrafted’s response. 

Robbie Antonio, the founder of luxury prefab construction firm Revolution Precrafted, is being probed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in the Philippines for allegedly duping former suppliers and contractors, according to local reports.

Nine contractors and suppliers filed a complaint on Thursday claiming that Revolution Precrafted misled them into a scheme, which would involve them winning contracts in Revolution’s development projects if they paid the company 10% of the contract’s value.

They further alleged that Revolution failed to secure government agency permits for the projects, throwing the validity of these contracts into question. The Filipino company was also criticised for failing to honour its contracts in ordering supplies, resulting in significant losses for the suppliers and contractors.

The complainants come from businesses in furniture, fixtures, construction supplies, and were reportedly duped in 150 million pesos ($3 million) worth of deals. In their affidavits, they explained that Robbie Antonio was present to close their deals, even though the contract terms were discussed by company management.

A representative from Revolution Precrafted is also understood to have been subpoenaed by the NBI.

Revolution Precrafted on Friday responded in an email statement to DealStreetAsia that it is committed to “expeditiously resolve company issues” as settlement discussions remain underway with complaining suppliers and contractors.

“We are fully cooperating with the authorities on this and we are committed to address these issues with our contractors and suppliers,” said Revolution Precrafted’s director and corporate secretary Michael Bilgera.

Revolution explained that the firm has been working on several projects as a supplier of designer homes to landowner-developers when the pandemic struck, affecting its sales and collections. It added that it was unable to collect its receivables from landowners, thereby limiting its ability to pay its contractors and suppliers.

“Like many companies, we were not exempt from the market challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic that significantly affected our sales, collections and operations,” said Revolution Precrafted founder Robbie Antonio.

“Nonetheless, the company sincerely assures its stakeholders that it will honour all legitimate contractual obligations with its partners and suppliers, and only ask for some time consideration to resolve its issues. In parallel, we will also work in earnest to collect what is due the company,” he said.

Robbie Antonio, son of Filipino real estate company Century Properties founder Jose Antonio, set up Revolution Precrafted in 2015. The company, touted as the Philippines’ first venture-backed unicorn, promoted a vision to build prefabricated luxury homes designed by internationally renowned architects including Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Philip Johnson.

However, DealStreetAsia’s investigative report on Antonio and his company last year revealed the firm barely delivered on its promises to its customers. Revolution was also found to be raising tiny amounts of funds at lofty valuations, throwing the validity of its hallowed unicorn status into question.

Revolution was also found to have stretched the truth on its sales, especially around Batulao Artscapes, a project Antonio jointly developed with his father’s company, Century Properties. Some “starchitects” whom Revolution tapped on for its award-winning designs were also found to have ended their partnerships with the firm.

Antonio, a flamboyant personality who was known for his extravagant lifestyle and parties with Hollywood celebrities Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, has been keeping a low profile for the last year.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.