TOKYO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Nearly three months after his ouster from the board at Universal Entertainment Corp (6425.T), billionaire Kazuo Okada is fighting back to try to regain control of the $2.2 billion Japanese gaming group.
At a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday, Okada is expected to say he has reinstalled himself as director of Okada Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong parent of Universal, according to a person close to the 74-year old tycoon.
That development, which the person said was made possible by a recent change of heart by Okada’s daughter to support her father, marks a significant step in his effort to wrest back control of Universal itself.
Winning back the gaming empire he founded five decades ago is just the latest challenge Okada faces in a chequered career.He is locked in a legal battle with former associate Steve Wynn, and has been subject to a slew of tax, gaming and law enforcement probes, including those related to a $2.4 billion casino in the Philippines.
But his ouster from Universal in June was more personal.
His son, daughter and wife voted him out of Okada Holdings in May, replacing him with two directors friendly to Universal’s board, which then dismissed him based on allegations he misappropriated $20 million in company funds. Okada has denied wrongdoing.
Universal did not respond to questions about the changes at Okada Holdings. It has also declined to make its president, Jun Fujimoto, available for interview.
People familiar with the matter say Fujimoto largely engineered the boardroom coup that ousted Okada.
How the battle for Universal shakes out could alter the course of a long-running dispute between Universal and Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O), say people familiar with the litigation strategy on both sides.
Writing to a Universal shareholder in June, Fujimoto said Okada was “unfit” to represent a public company, echoing Wynn’s reasoning for dismissing Okada as a director of Wynn Resorts in 2012. …