Universal Entertainment Corp., the Japanese gaming machine manufacturer, said that it had no knowledge of potential attempts by businessman Kazuo Okada to acquire a Philippines-listed company and merge it with the manager of Manila-based casino resort Okada Manila and thus backdoor-list the property.
The Japanese group’s comment came after reports emerged that Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, the company that controls the complex, has been in talks to acquire Philippine publicly traded firm Bright Kindle Resources.
In a statement from earlier today, Universal Entertainment explained that Tiger Resort is indeed responsible for the operation of Okada Manila and that the company is a consolidated subsidiary of the Japanese gaming group. However, Mr. Okada currently has no involvement in the operation of the casino resort, as pointed out by Universal Entertainment itself.
As previously reported, the Japanese tycoon was ousted from the boards of both Tiger Resort and its parent, due to allegations that he had transferred, without the specific approval of fellow board members, a considerable amount of money to a third party. The recipient had then extended the money to a business entity owned by Mr. Okada. An investigation was then opened into the alleged improper movement of funds and more similarly questionable instances emerged.
In its statement, Universal Entertainment revealed that it has been considering the possibility to issue an IPO for Tiger Resort, but no decision has been taken yet. The company is set to release more details when it decides on whether the move will be materialized.
Backdoor-Listing and the Philippines’ Casino Industry
Backdoor-listing has not been a rare practice within the nation’s casino industry. Here it is important to note that together with three more integrated resorts, Okada Manila is part of a grander scheme for the construction of a hotel, gaming, and entertainment complex in the heart of the Philippine capital.
Okada Manila is the third resort to have been launched as part of what is known as Entertainment City project. Bloomberry’s Solaire Resort & Casino and Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s City of Dreams Manila were the first to open doors in the Manila Bay area and they were both backdoor-listed through a local publicly traded vehicle.
According to reports from local media from earlier this week, Bright Kindle Resources was planned to be acquired by Tiger Resort and then used so that the casino operator is listed on the Philippine exchange. Unnamed sources had reportedly said that the backdoor-listing process would take around two years to be completed.
Okada Manila hosted its opening in March 2017 after multiple delays. The $2.4-billion resort represented a goal of Mr. Okada’s to enter a market he believed would be a highly lucrative one. The March opening celebrated the first phase of the project, which occupies 22 hectares of land. The whole resort is planned to spread over 44 hectares of land. Construction work on the resort’s second phase is expected to commence late this year.