Okada Manila, a Philippines-based casino resort, has agreed to go public in the United States through a merger with blank-cheque firm 26 Capital Acquisition Corp in a deal valued at $2.5 billion.
The merger, announced on Friday, is expected to give Okada Manila cash proceeds of up to $275 million that it plans to use for growth once COVID-19 curbs ease in what was one of Asia’s fastest-growing gambling markets before the pandemic.
Its parent company Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp will roll its entire equity into the combined company, of which it will own about 88% upon the close of the deal.
The merger with 26 Capital Acquisition is expected to close in the first half of next year. The blank-check firm is led by Jason Ader, the co-founder and chief executive of New York-based buyout firm SpringOwl Asset Management.
Ader also acts as an independent sponsor, focused on the real estate, gaming and lodging sectors. He served as an independent director for Las Vegas Sands Corp between 2009 and 2016 and was instrumental in the turnaround of the casino company.
Blank-cheque firms like 26 Capital Acquisition, also known as special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs), have no business operations and are raised with the purpose of merging with a private company at a later date.