Leading Asian Casino Business Postpones Merger Yet Again
Leading Asian Casino Business Postpones Merger Yet Again – Okada Manila was set to complete a merger with 26 Capital and list on Nasdaq as part of a global expansion strategy.
Top-level management was disrupted, however, as a result of legal disputes with its former CEO.
The company still expects to complete the merger in 2023, announcing big plans for Asia and the rest of the world.
Okada Announces “Last” Delay in Big-Industry Merger
Okada Manila, one of Asia’s largest casino resort operators, has agreed to push back plans for its NASDAQ listing by a year.
The gaming and hospitality giant was expected to begin trading on the New York based stock exchange after a high-profile merger with 26 Capital, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) out of Miami, Florida.
The 2.5 billion-dollar deal was announced late last year as Okada continues making long-term plans to tackle online casino competition as one of the industry’s major challenges.
Formally an acquisition by the American SPAC, the merger is held back by years of conflicts between the Board of Directors and the company’s founder and former CEO, Kazuo Okada.
The stage seemed set for the takeover to take effect last September, company sources confirm.
Okada has a healthy business operation in Manila, covering 50 acres of property, with 1,000 table games and nearly 7,000 electronic gaming machines.
The complex also features two luxury hotels with about 1,000 rooms, 50 retail stores, an indoor beach area, a night club and a couple dozen restaurants.
The merger now looks set to be completed by September 2023, gaming experts understand, followed by a much anticipated NASDAQ listing.
The changes to the company structure were announced by a new entity called UE Resorts International (UERI), as Manila is officially known since last December.
The Group is expected to comply with US Securities Act requirements and other global operational standards.
Efforts to optimize top-level governance come within a broader strategy to gain a foothold in more Asian markets and beyond, including the United States.
Okada’s Turbulent Company History
The protracted legal battles between Okada Manila and Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada have been an issue in the Philippines for at least five years.
The businessman was stripped of all positions within the company after claims he misappropriated some of its funds.
The Supreme Court reinstated him with a back-date order after finding no proof of the alleged wrongdoing.
However, as the enterprise is legally registered in Hong Kong, company lawyers argued that the Philippines Supreme Court should have no say in the matter.
As a result, Okada engaged with local police, court officials and literally took control of company premises in Manila.
The role of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in these events was fundamental.
Initially, the Gambling Regulator got behind Kazua Okada. Several months later, however, PAGCOR reconsidered the case and withdrew its recognition for the Okada-appointed Board.
Now the saga looks to be in its final stages, with registration papers circulated on behalf of UERI.
As the Group looks toward more and more foreign jurisdictions and markets, courts may still block it locally.
Despite that, HQ management and online operations of the new gaming operator look stable enough to complete the merger by this time next year.
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