Philippine casino’s Nasdaq listing still possible this year — CEO

MANILA – The Philippines’ largest casino could still complete a $2.5 billion merger and listing in the United States late this year, with audits and talks progressing after a management dispute, the CEO of a blank-check company pursuing the listing said.

The Nasdaq debut of the Okada Manila integrated casino-resort through 26 Capital Acquisition Corp was agreed in October last year, but has faced several delays because of a feud between shareholders.

“Our company is planning to move full-steam ahead with Universal Entertainment Corp to list Okada Manila,” Jason Ader, chairman and CEO of 26 Capital, told Reuters late on Tuesday. “It is possible we can do it this year.”

The $3.3 billion Okada Manila is owned by subsidiaries of Japan’s Universal.

In May, Japanese pachinko tycoon Kazuo Okada and his Filipino associates had taken physical control of the casino-resort, backed by a Supreme Court order.

Representatives of Universal early this month secured a favorable ruling from the gaming regulator and took back control over the operations of the gambling resort.

The camp of Okada and his Filipino partners had after the takeover accused the regulator of defying the Supreme Court and pledged legal action. His camp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The casino’s current management is conducting audits on the 44-hectare casino-resort’s finances ahead of filing updated documents with regulators, Ader said. He added the country’s gaming market was continuing to recover from the pandemic.

Okada Manila started operations late in 2016. With 993 suites and villas, 500 table games and 3,000 electronic gaming machines, it is the biggest of four multibillion-dollar casino-resorts operating in the Philippine capital, which has one of Asia’s most freewheeling gaming industries. – Reuters