Caesars Entertainment Corporation has rejected an offer to take part in a significant merger. The offer came from the billionaire casino tycoon Tilman Fertitta.
Fertitta is the owner of the Golden Nugget casino and hotel chain and the Landry’s entertainment and hospitality chain. He went to Caesar’s with an offer to merge, but the offer was declined.
The deal would have required Caesars to take on significant levels of extra debt at a time when the company is trying to reduce its level of debt.
Last year, Caesars was involved in a complicated, long-running bankruptcy case that resulted from its $25bn (£19.3bn) cache of debt from their leveraged buyout in 2008. The company still has debt of about $9bn (£6.9bn) on the books.
What’s in Caesars’ Future?
When word of the offer broke, the price of Caesar’s shares jumped 18% in two days to a closing price of $10.20 (£7.86), bringing its market cap to just shy of $7bn (£5.4bn). Fertitta is worth about $4.5bn (£3.47bn) and currently owns the Houston Rockets team in the National Basketball Association.
Fertitta’s offer was in the form of a reverse merger through which Caesars would acquire his casino holdings. That may not have been attractive enough for Caesars, which is reportedly interested in acquiring some of the Jack Entertainment locations.
Jack Entertainment owns six casinos and hotel venues in Ohio and Michigan. If the deal with Caesars goes through, it would be worth about $1bn (£770m). Talks are going on.
Some key stakeholders in Caesars appear to be trying to derail any deal with Jack Entertainment. These stakeholders include Canyon Partner, which owns a 10% portion of Caesars, and HG Vora Capital, which holds almost 5% of Caesars’ shares. Both supported merging with the casino chain owned by Fertitta.
Some thought that, when details about this potential merger were released, the Jack Entertainment deal would be off. However, it seems that the majority of Caesars’ board wants it to go ahead.
Under the proposed deal, Caesars would purchase the gaming operation of each of the casinos. Jack Entertainment’s REIT, Vici Properties, would then lease back the operations over a long period.
Caesars has focused lately on expanding its profile both in the United States and overseas. This is all part of its plan for growth following their bankruptcy proceedings.
One of the company’s most significant recent deals was its acquisition of two horse racing tracks and casinos owned by Centaur Holdings in Indiana. This deal was reportedly worth around $1.7bn (£1.3bn).
The contract of Mark Frissora, the current CEO of Caesars, ends in February 2019, so he is undoubtedly eager to get this Jack Entertainment deal signed because it would put him in a good position to continue in his current role.
State of the Casino Sector
The outlook on the US casino industry has been bearish. Much of the focus falls on Las Vegas, as the capital of gambling in the country.
While they get significant bumps in gambling revenues and hotel rates during major events such as the recent Conor McGregor UFC fight, the level of visitors to Las Vegas has been declining recently.
The major Strip casinos, in particular, have not been performing too well in recent months. Revenues and room rates have dropped significantly throughout the Strip.
With strong levels of economic growth and employment in the country, such a decline is somewhat unexpected. It would have been assumed that more disposable income would result in more money coming into Las Vegas. The casinos are hoping that the fourth quarter will show improvements, particularly with some key events on the horizon.
Shares of most of the major casino groups have dropped to 52-week lows in recent months, so it will be interesting to see what sort of rebound will result in the fourth quarter, if any at all.
Of the visitors to the Strip, fight fans are the most lucrative on a mass level. On average, they spend almost $4,000 (£3,085) for each visit to the city.