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Universal pursues US listing through SPAC combination

| By Robin Harrison
Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corporation will look to list its integrated resorts business in the US, though a combination with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
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Universal Entertainment opened the Okada Manila property in the Philippines in December 2016, and has seen performance grow steadily since. 

While the resort was shuttered as a result of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic between March and September 2020, Universal explained that it had implemented a number of measures to boost its earnings power. 

This included reducing fixed expenses and ramping up marketing. These measures will now remain in place after ongoing restrictions, such as a 30% capacity limit, are eased to benefit future margins. 

As a result, Universal will now explore a potential listing either on the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange, designed to further grow its IR business and increase the corporate group’s value. 

To support these plans it has struck agreements with US and Japanese financial advisory firms in preparation of a potential listing. 

As part of this process the operator is working to identify a SPAC through which it will list, investigating legal and tax ramifications, and whether a listing would require a change in its capital structure. 

Universal did not give any indication as to when it may announce a combination and timescale for listing, though said it was likely to happen some time in its 2021.

It would become the latest gaming business to go public through a SPAC transaction, following the likes of DraftKings, Golden Nugget Online Gaming and Rush Street Interactive

Fertitta Entertainment, the parent company of the brick-and-mortar Golden Nugget operator Landry’s, is also listing through a combination with Fast Acquisition Corporation.

The business also announced its financial results for 2020. While its pachinko machine sales business saw revenue increase, the closure of Okada Manila meant revenue dropped 27.3% year-on-year.

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