Japanese gaming conglomerate Universal Entertainment Corp says it is preparing to take public Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, the promoter of the US$2-billion Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines.
The move would be in “about two years to accelerate its growth and raise its name recognition,” said Universal Entertainment in a filing on the company’s first quarter results.
“Details will be disclosed as soon as they are finalised,” added the firm. It didn’t mention where the flotation might take place.
In a filing earlier this month, Universal Entertainment said that adding guest rooms to the Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippine capital was its “highest priority”. It also said it wanted a VIP casino facility there.
Notwithstanding the announcement of a possible initial public offering (IPO), the corporate structure of the Universal Entertainment empire has been riven by litigation and feuding stemming from the removal in June last year of founder Kazuo Okada from the board amid allegations of “three acts of fraudulence” made against the entrepreneur. He has denied the claims.
On Monday, the same day that Universal Entertainment made the initial public offering revelation, the firm said in a separate filing to Jasdaq that it had filed criminal complaints and civil lawsuits in four jurisdictions – the United States, the Philippines, Macau and Hong Kong – against Aruze Gaming America Inc, a casino equipment supplier also founded by Mr Okada, and against the entrepreneur personally.
Universal Entertainment stated it was “seeking the compensation of damages, etc. on the grounds that its patent rights and other rights were violated in each country [sic].”
The gaming conglomerate said in commentary to its first-quarter 2018 results that the casino resort business had posted net sales of nearly JPY8.90 billion (US$81.1 million), and an operating loss of JPY1.41 billion. Compared with the fourth quarter of 2017, Okada Manila sales increased by nearly JPY1.74 billion and the operating loss decreased by JPY550million, the firm stated.
The company confirmed in its first-quarter earnings report that Macau junket operators Suncity Group and Tak Chun Group started VIP operations at Okada Manila “late in the first quarter of 2018″. The firm added: “Due to the full-scale start of operations with major junkets, this business expects growth in casino sales in the VIP category.”
Universal Entertainment said additionally that Okada Manila will be launching in the second quarter of 2018 a new area in the casino “exclusively for high-end guests”, called the Maharlika Club.
For the first quarter of 2018, Universal Entertainment said group-wide profit reached JPY181.40 billion, on net sales of JPY19.55 billion.
In 2017, Universal Entertainment changed its fiscal year-end to December 31, meaning there are no year-on-year comparisons available for the first calendar quarter of 2018.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China