REPRESENTATIVE DIRECTOR AND PRESIDENT
Universal Entertainment Corp
POWER SCORE: 721
POSITION LAST YEAR: 32
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Heads only Japanese company to operate its own integrated resort
- Deposed Universal’s founder, Kazuo Okada, in 2017
WHILE OTHER Asian land-based gaming executives are licking their wounds over lost opportunities to enter the Japanese market, Okada Manila’s boss Jun Fujimoto isn’t looking back.
Last month Okada Manila owner and Universal subsidiary Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc announced an American Depository Receipt listing on the Nasdaq following a reverse merger with Miami-based 26 Capital Acquisition Corp. The listing anticipates a US$275 million fundraising target, useful indeed for closing in on completion of the Philippines’ largest casino resort.
With the Philippines pressing to open up more quickly after nearly two years of pandemic torment, the timing could hardly be better. And like Singapore, the Philippines comes ready made with a formidable domestic mass market to insulate land-based operations from Chinese government pressure and uncertain recovery of international travel.
Fujimoto’s power play against his former boss Kazuo Okada is legally done and dusted thanks to recent Japanese court dismissals of Okada’s appeals, leaving the usurper — or savior, depending on your point of view — with an open road to take Universal Entertainment on a growth trajectory even as its traditional pachinko stomping ground declines.
Every industry needs success stories, however strained. Universal Entertainment’s saga of warfare between Kazuo Okada and Steve Wynn over the Philippine project, followed by Osaka’s and Wynn’s dethronings on their home turf, has somehow given birth to what will likely be one of the world’s most lucrative post-pandemic casinos.
For the full list of 2021 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.