Of Friendship and Profits

There’s this popular belief in that it’s not advisable to have friends as business partners. One living proof would be as to what happened to Kazuo Okada and Steve Wynn, and their supposedly Southeast Asian gaming foray.


Okada and Wynn first got together back in 2000 when the former helped the latter for the control of Wynn Casino Ltd. Further collaboration then resulted in the opening of their first casino in Macau in 2006. A year later, a second casino was built; both combining for 70% of Wynn Resorts revenue that’s coming from Macau.

In 2010, Okada wanted Wynn to join him in his casino investment in the Philippines which at that time was being processed by Universal Entertainment Corporation, Okada’s own company. The Wynn compliance board looked into it and eventually decided against it, February 2011 as board member Bob Miller suggested some bribery was going on for the advancement of the project at a board meeting.

This was then the start of the friendship gone sour. Bribery accusations from both sides. Lawsuits. Stake buy out. Take over. More flack, more cases. And to this date, they are just both bleeding from “gun” shots.

As a Leader, there are two things to ponder and enhance here.

Arbitration. Who’s at fault? We’re not pointing fingers here but trying to justly see through the dispute. If Okada was accused for the Philippine bribery, what about Wynn for the Macau bribery? Moreover, though every corporation has it’s own “rules”, there should be a clearer definition of what “unsuitable” is to verily justify the ouster of a Director. Now, this is not to say that Okada shouldn’t have been ousted but there’s also this question on him becoming Wynn’s business “competitor” as the reason for the takeover. Share percentages were simply a result of vagueness and motives.

Partnership. Most people look for like-mindedness as a rationale for collaboration, I say this should be a case-to-case basis. Many are anxious to have friends as partners, again, this is case-to-case. Like-mindedness could inevitably result in competition, so get a partner that would instead fill your weaknesses. Friends as partners are no different from acquaintances or any “non-friend” partner – without drawing a line or understanding each other’s goals, you’d eventually fall apart.

There’s one distinct advantage though when having a friend as a business partner – you start out with that built-in trust and concern; now it’s just a matter of, again, “truly” understanding each other’s existence.

What’s your take?

One thought on “Of Friendship and Profits

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