Billionaire Okada’s Vegas Losses Mount as Wynn Doubles Dividend

Billionaire Okada’s Vegas Losses Mount as Wynn Doubles Dividend
Kazuo Okada, chairman of Universal Entertainment Corp., listens during an interview in Hong Kong. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Billionaire Kazuo Okada missed out on an almost $200 million jackpot after Wynn Resorts Ltd., the casino company he co-founded, declared a special dividend yesterday.

The Las Vegas-based company run by billionaire Steve Wynn declared an $8-a-share payout for investors holding the stock on Nov. 7. Okada, 70, was the company’s largest shareholder until February of this year when Wynn Resorts unilaterally redeemed his 24.5 million-share position.

Wynn Resorts, which owns casinos in Las Vegas and Macau, also doubled its quarterly dividend to $1 a share, meaning Okada would have been entitled to payouts of almost $25 million a quarter going forward.

Michael Weaver, a spokesman for Wynn Resorts declined to comment. Steve Getzug, a Los Angeles-based spokesman for Okada, said he would try to reach the executive, whose Universal Entertainment Corp. is based in Tokyo.

Wynn Resorts redeemed Okada’s shares at a 30 percent discount to market value after declaring the executive unsuitable to be an investor. The discount amounted to a $700 million hit to Okada’s net worth.

The board accused the Japanese pachinko machine maker of trying to influence Asian casino regulators with free hotel rooms and cash. Okada has denied the charges and challenged Wynn Resorts’ action in court.

Wynn, also 70, said in a conference call yesterday that his company increased the dividend because interest on bonds are low and investors are looking for higher-yielding stocks to hold. Wynn Resorts purchased Okada’s holdings in exchange for a $1.9 billion promissory note from the company that pays 2 percent annually. Wynn Resorts shares now yield 3.6 percent per year, based on yesterday’s dividend increase and closing stock price of $112.29.

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