Okada expanding operations of Universal Entertainment Corp.

May 21, 2012 8:39 PM

Despite his dispute with former partner Steve Wynn, Kazuo Okada is still expanding the operations of his company, Universal Entertainment Corp., both in the restaurant field and in its Philippine casino.

It was the investment in the Manila casino project that caused a split between Okada and Wynn, the original partners in Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN). Charging that Okada violated U.S. law in seeking and receiving the casino license in the Philippines, WYNN directors retired Okada’s company shares and discounted their value by 30 percent.

For his part, Okada charged Steve Wynn with unauthorized investments, including a promise of $130 million for the University of Macau, where the company has a major casino investment.

In recent days, Okada has set his company’s sights on five “high-class” restaurants, the first of which, K.O. Dining, recently opened in Hong Kong. He plans at least another four such properties in major Asian cities.

In the Philippines, Okada indicated he may take on a local partner in the $2 billion project, an effort, he said, to help reduce the amount of money needed to be borrowed. In an interview last week, Okada said he hopes to fund about 70 percent of the Manila project with his company’s capital.

“With projects like these the loan portion is usually bigger,” Okada said in the Hong Kong interview. “If we enter into a partnership we may not even need any loans,” he added.

Apparently, his experience with the partnership in Wynn Resorts, has not discouraged him from seeking a Manila partner.