Okada IPO to proceed in 2019
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc., the operator of Okada Manila, plans to proceed with its public listing in 2019, its parent firm Universal Entertainment Corp. (UEC) said in a recent report to shareholders.

The group is looking at listed shell companies in the Philippines as possible vehicles for the planned backdoor listing, Okada Manila chief finance officer Hans Van Der Sande told The STAR in an interview last week in Okada Manila.

“We’re looking at three companies,” Van Der Sande said.  He noted that there are about 20 to 30 shell companies in the stock exchange, but the group already trimmed down the possible targets to three companies.

In its report to shareholders, Japan-listed UEC said the move would accelerate Okada Manila’s growth.

“The Universal Entertainment Group is preparing to  take Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. public in 2019 to accelerate its growth and raise its name recognition,” UEC said.

Van Der Sande said business in Okada Manila is steadily improving along with growing foot market. Okada Manila is the third integrated resort to open in the 100-hectare Entertainment City in Paranaque. Kazuo Okada, the Japanese pachinko king, previously chaired Okada Manila until he was ousted from parent firm UEC because of charges of fraud.

From 10,000 visitors a day, Okada Manila is now getting 10,000 to 15,000 visits a day, Van Der Sande said.

According to UEC, the casino resort business posted net sales of 21.6 billion yen (P10 billion) and an operating loss of 3 billion yen (P1. 5 billion) in the first half.

“Total sales at Okada Manila, led by the gaming business in the Manila Bay region of the Philippines, continue to increase and this casino and resort has already become profitable in terms of its quarterly EBITDA. Sales in this business surpassed the initial forecast with gaming operations for the mass market and for VIPs, which are the primary source of the company’s sales growth. The volume of the mass market has been climbing steadily and the official opening of junkets promoters have started contributing to growth in VIP gaming sales. In addition, the hotel occupancy rate was extremely high at 98 percent in the second quarter of 2018,” UEC said.

Furthermore, the company said more components of Okada Manila have started operating.

“This resort already features the world’s largest multi-color fountains and Cove Manila, an all-weather dome that has Southeast Asia’s largest nightclub and beach club. Now, the resort has added the Maharlika Club, which is a gaming area exclusively for premium Filipino players, a high-end resort spa called The Spa Retreat and an outdoor swimming pool that overlooks Manila Bay. These additions reinforce Okada Manila’s position as the only fully integrated resort in Asia.”

Moving forward, Okada Manila will continue to expand attractions and amenities with the highest priority.

Van Der Sande said in the third quarter, operations would begin at a Chinese restaurant called Yu Lei, which has a restaurant in Hong Kong that received a Michelin star.

In addition, there will be expansion of hotel guest rooms and the shopping area.

To increase earnings from the mass market, there will be more non-gaming facilities and services that match customers’ needs. In the VIP casino, operations are benefiting from the full-scale operations of current junkets.

In addition, Okada Manila plans to start initiatives to attract an even larger number of VIPs from other countries, added Byron Yip, Okada Manila COO.

Plans include strengthening the international marketing, opening sales offices in strategic countries, and adding and enhancing amenities that position Okada Manila as an integrated resort.

Asked about possible competition from the Landing Group which plans to open a casino in Manila in 2022 just beside Okada Manila, both Yip and Van Der Sande said this is a welcome development which would boost the market at Entertainment City.

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