The management of Universal Entertainment Corp says it has not yet started buying back its stock in the manner it pledged. The Japanese gaming company told the JASDAQ Securities Exchange on Monday that it bought no shares last month. In the middle of October, the company said it would buy 600,000 shares of common stock – about 0.75 percent of its outstanding shares, excluding treasury stock – for JPY2 billion (US$17.6 million) between October 15 and December 28 this year.
Monday’s filing to the exchange offered no reason for the intended purchase, but the company has been endeavouring recently to improve its relations with its investors. In October, Universal Entertainment said the buyback would “enable the execution of flexible capital policies that accommodate the reinforcement of the return of profits to shareholders and changes in the company’s operating environment”. The company added that its managers gave priority to returning profits to shareholders.
The company is engaged in a multifaceted, public dispute with its founder and former boss, Japanese gaming magnate Kazuo Okada, who is attempting to regain control of the company. Universal Entertainment is the parent company of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, which runs the Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines.
Universal Entertainment reported last month that the adjusted segment earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of the Okada Manila property were PHP370.6 million (US$6.98 million) in October, the most in any month since the soft opening at the end of 2016. Okada Manila recorded gross gaming revenue of nearly PHP2.68 billion in October, the most in any month apart from May this year, when some on-site events led to a spike in revenue, Universal Entertainment had said. The novel, monthly performance report on the Okada Manila is in line with Universal Entertainment’s effort to improve its relations with its investors.
The potential for Okada Manila to become a leading casino resort has been noted by Fitch Ratings Inc. In a report released last week, the ratings agency highlighted the “scale and high-end focus” of the project and the volume of VIP business the facility attracts to Manila’s Entertainment City complex.
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