Okada Manila Considering Japan Expansion After SPAC Deal Closes

Posted on: October 19, 2021, 11:33h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2021, 12:01h.

Fresh off announcing plans to merge with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), Okada Manila could be eyeing its next move: expanding in Japan, its parent company’s home country.

Okada Manila
Okada Manila could pursue expansion after its SPAC deal closes. Japan is a likely destination. (Image: Yahoo Finance)

Last Friday, Okada Manila, the world’s only Japanese-owned integrated resort, said it’s merging with Jason Ader’s shell company 26 Capital (NASDAQ:ADER), paving the way for the casino operator to list its shares in the US. The company will trade on the Nasdaq when the transaction with the blank-check firm closes in June 2022.

Ader, who also runs investment firm SpringOwl Asset Management, confirmed Okada Manila will seek expansion opportunities in Japan.

The company will own assets beyond the Philippines over the next several years,” Ader said in an interview with Bloomberg. “This company is not expecting to be just a single asset company in perpetuity.”

Currently, Okada Manila is comprised of just that gaming venue in the Philippines. The only publicly traded casino operator in the US with a smaller number of venues is Monarch Casino & Resort (NASDAQ:MCRI), which owns two gaming properties.

Assessing Okada Manila Japan Prospects

Japan-based Universal Entertainment is Okada Manila’s parent company, so there are obvious ties to the world’s third-largest economy. But how the operator will fit in its home country’s still-emerging casino gaming landscape remains to be seen.

The approval process there is slow-moving. But it’s expected that next year, Japanese authorities will select as many as many as three cities to be homes to the country’s first integrated resorts. While new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is supportive of casino gaming, Okada Manila is behind competitors, at least when it comes to the initial trio of licenses.

Currently, just three prefectures — Nagasaki, Osaka, and Wakayama — are bidding, and each has declared intents to move forward with formidable partners. Osaka is teaming up with local financial services firm Orix and MGM Resorts International, while Casinos Austria is Nagasaki’s partner.

Wakayama’s bid may have recently gotten a positive jolt when Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) said it’s joining Clairvest Neem Ventures K.K.’s consortium.

Other Opportunities

Ader adds Okada Manila could eventually pursue acquisition opportunities beyond Japan, but he declined to identify specific markets.

He previously served on the board of Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) from 2009 through 2016, confirming an intimate knowledge of Asia’s gaming landscape. There is speculation that some gaming assets in the Asia-Pacific region could be on the market, but those rumors don’t involve Okada Manila.

Ader’s 26 Capital is providing up to $275 million in cash to Okada Manila through the blank-check transaction, and if its shares appreciate following the deal, it will have added currency with which to consider acquisitions. But it could take some time for such plans to come together.