Okada Manila to merge with Ader’s 26 Capital Acquisition and go public

| By Robert Fletcher
Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, the Philippines-based casino and integrated resort operating as Okada Manila, has agreed to merge with special purpose acquisition business 26 Capital Acquisition and go public.
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The deal places Okada Manila at an enterprise value of $2.6bn (£1.9bn/€2.3bn) and will also provide Okada Manila with up to $275m in cash, generated via 26 Capital’s initial public offering in January this year.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the first half of 2022, is subject to approval by 26 Capital stockholders and other customary closing conditions, will also see the newly publicly traded business have its common stock listed on the Nasdaq via an American Depository Receipt program.

Japanese-owned and operated casino Okada Manila opened in 2019 in Entertainment City, Manila in the Philippines, though the facility is yet to fully open with construction work still ongoing. 

Presently, the casino has over 35,000sq m of gaming space and capacity to operate 599 gaming tables and 4,263 electronic gaming machines. When the casino is fully open in 2022, its gambling capabilities will be expanded to 974 gaming tables and 6,890 electronic gaming machines, in addition to 993 luxury hotel rooms, retail facilities and over 25 dining options.

26 Capital Acquisition is led by activist investor Jason Ader, who said he intends to use his expertise in the gambling sector to help the combined business unlock value and drive new growth opportunities.

“Okada Manila is the future of the gaming market in Asia and poised for tremendous growth,” 26 Capital chairman and chief executive Ader said. “With its beautiful new facility, a desirable location in one of the fastest-growing gaming markets in the world, and potential for industry-leading margins and cash flow conversion, I believe the Okada Manila is an extremely compelling investment.”

Should the deal go through as expected, Okada Manila will continue to be led by president Byron Yip, chief financial officer Hans Van Der Sande and its leadership team. Universal Entertainment Corporation, Okada Manila’s parent company and current owner of 100% of its equity, will retain its current holdings in Okada Manila in the newly publicly traded company.

“Okada Manila is at the heart of the gaming and hospitality business in Asia,” Yip said. “We are fortunate to operate the most luxurious integrated resort in the Philippines, and excited to realise the full potential of this state-of-the-art facility for gaming, entertainment, and hospitality as a public company and in partnership with Jason Ader of 26 Capital.”

Universal Entertainment’s chairman, president and chief executive, Jun Fujimoto, added: “Today marks an exciting milestone for Okada Manila and for Universal Entertainment. Universal Entertainment has always taken great pride as the owner and developer of Okada Manila, and we are extremely pleased to partner with Jason Ader and 26 Capital to introduce Okada Manila to the public markets. 

“We look forward to continuing our strong support for the business and to a path of immense growth ahead.”

Earlier this year, Okada was granted approval to enter the online gaming market from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), making it the first of the four “Entertainment City” integrated resort operators permitted to launch an online product.

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