Tiger Resorts Asia Ltd., a subsidiary of Japan’s Universal Entertainment, has entered a deal to buy two-thirds of Asiabest Group International, a Manila-based holding company. The $12 million deal would provide Tiger Resorts Asia with majority control of a company listed on the Philippine Stock Exchange.
The deal allows Tiger Resorts to join the Philippine Stock Exchange through the practice of “back door listing“. Investopedia describes a back door listing as “strategy of going public used by a company that fails to meet the criteria for listing on a stock exchange. To get onto the exchange, the company desiring to go public acquires an already listed company.”
To perform a back door listing, a company either needs a lot of cash on hand or the ability to get financing for a major acquisition. The acquiring company then begins doing business under the name of the company acquired. Future stories about Tiger Resorts Asia likely will carry the name AsiaBest.
The practice is unconventional, but it is not unknown in the Philippine gaming industry. In 2012, Bloomberry, the owner of the Solaire Resort & Casino, joined the Philippine Stock Exchange through a back door listing. Melco Resorts & Entertainment, the owner of City of Dreams Manila, also operates in the Philippines under a back door listing.
About Tiger Resorts Asia
Tiger Resorts is the company which owns Okada Manila, the $2.4 billion integrated casino resort once owned by the troubled Japanese gaming mogul, Kazuo Okada. Earlier this summer, Mr. Okada was arrested by Chinese officials as he was boarding a flight in Hong Kong.
The company’s purchase of company already listed on the PSE was a known possibility. In October 2017, Tiger Resorts tried to acquire Bright Kindle Resources and Investments Inc. for the same reasons.
Billionaire Is Suing Okada Holdings
Meanwhile, Kazuo Okada, the founder and former CEO of Universal Entertainment and Tiger Resorts Asia, is suing the company to regain control. In May 2017, as Okada faced a series of charges that he misappropriated company funds, the board of directors removed Okada from his posts. Now he is suing to become the company’s Chairman, CEO, and top shareholder of Okada Holdings, the parent company of Universal Entertainment and Tiger Resorts Asia.
Okada’s activities in the Philippines remain under scrutiny by Philippine officials. They continue to investigate whether a Philippine official charged with investigating the casino company’s activities was influenced by Okada.
Alleged Hong Kong Arrest
The Japanese billionaire is alleged to have faced legal issues in Hong Kong. As he was boarding a flight to leave Hong Kong, Okada was detained by Chinese officials. They wanted to investigate Okada’s alleged misappropriation of funds.
Kazuo Okada denied he was picked up by officials in Hong Kong, which leaves the story in limbo. It is possible enemies in the gaming industry planted the story to smear Kazuo Okada, but no one has confirmed either way the truth about the story.
Kazuo Okada vs. Steve Wynn
Prior to 2010, Kazuo Okada was a shareholder in Wynn Resorts. When the FBI began to investigate allegations of bribery in the Philippine casino industry, Okada came under scrutiny. Eventually, Steve Wynn pushed Okada off the board of directors in 2011, which led to a 6-year lawsuit launched by the Japanese gaming executive in 2012.
That case eventually was settled in March 2018, though neither Steve Wynn nor Kazuo Okada was a part of the settlement.
Instead, Universal Entertainment’s board reached a billion-dollar arrangement with Wynn Resorts’s board to sell Universal’s longstanding interest in the Las Vegas casino company.