Universal Entertainment to Backdoor List Philippine Casino Subsidiary

Japanese gaming giant Universal Entertainment Corp. is taking its Philippines-based casino company Tiger Resort Asia Ltd. public through the acquisition of a majority stake in a company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.

Manila-based holding company Asiabest Group International announced earlier today that it has inked an agreement with Tiger Resort under which the casino operator would acquire two-thirds in Asiabest for the amount of PHP46.5 million (approximately $12 million). Tiger Resorts owns and operates Okada Manila, a $2.4 billion integrated resort located in the heart of the Philippine capital.

The move will allow the casino operator to join the Philippine Stock Exchange through the so-called backdoor listing practice. A block sale is set to take effect on November 12. Tiger Resort would not be the first casino company with business in the Philippines to be taken public through backdoor listing. Bloomberry, the owner of Solaire Resort & Casino, joined the local bourse through backdoor listing back in 2012.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment also had its Manila-based operations listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange through a listing vehicle. Melco operates the City of Dreams Manila integrated resort. The company actually announced yesterday that it plans to delist from the Philippine Stock Exchange as it has failed to raised enough funds for expansion of its local operation.

News about Tiger Resort’s potentially joining the local stock exchange first emerged last October when it was reported that the company was entering the final stages of negotiations over the purchase of local company Bright Kindle Resources and Investments Inc. However, a deal did not take place.

Founder Sues Tiger

In separate round of news from yesterday, it became known that Tiger’s founder and former CEO and Chairman, Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada, is suing the company and is seeking to be reinstated as shareholder, director Chairman, and Chief Executive of the company.

Mr. Okada landed in hot water last year. The Japanese magnate was removed from his post as a director at Okada Holdings, parent company of Universal Entertainment, in May 2017 over allegations that he had misappropriated funds from the company for personal benefit. Mr. Okada was later on ousted from the board of Tiger Resort over the same allegations.

A lawyer for the casino tycoon confirmed Monday that he had filed a lawsuit in Parañaque City Regional Trial Court, seeking to reassume his posts at the gaming and hospitality company. Mr. Okada has also reportedly reached out to his son, Tomohiro, asking him to resolve the ongoing family feud that was triggered by Mr. Okada’s ouster from his businesses and to serve the interests of the family not of the “unscrupulous” people behind the coup against the Japanese businessman.

According to reports from last month, Mr. Okada was arrested in Hong Kong on fraud charges. The reports were eventually dismissed as untrue by the businessman’s lawyer.

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