Monster casino deal
In what the Wall Street Journal has deemed one of the biggest US casino deals of 2022, private equity giant Blackstone is selling its 49.9% stake in MGM Grand Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay to New York City-based Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) VICI Properties.
biggest landlord on the Las Vegas Strip
The WSJ revealed the deal valued at $5.5bn on Thursday, strengthening the REIT’s position as the biggest landlord on the Las Vegas Strip by a considerable margin. Blackstone’s shares nosedived almost 10% on the news, prompting author-entrepreneur Gerald Peters to share the trading opportunity via Twitter:
The transaction sees VICI — which already owned a 50.1% stake in MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay — pay Blackstone $1.27bn in cash and assume the firm’s share of some $3bn in debt “at a 3.56% rate through 2032,” reports CNBC.
Appearing on CNBC’s Power Lunch, VICI CEO Ed Pitoniak labeled the 3.56% deal a good one considering the REIT might have expected to pay 6%.
Benefits for both
Pitoniak used the Power Lunch platform to reveal the speed at which the deal, expected to close in the first quarter of 2023, came together after Blackstone approached him “just a couple weeks ago.”
“We were very excited about the opportunity. Obviously it simplifies our structure, but it gives us total ownership of two of the most iconic assets on the Las Vegas Strip the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay,” Pitoniak said.
While the transaction reinforces VICI’s S&P 500 presence, it gives Blackstone both short-term gains and buffers. In the former category, the WSJ cites sources familiar with the deal who claim the sale should earn Blackstone a profit of over $700m in less than three years, including rent from the operator. In addition, the seller stated it can use the proceeds to purchase higher-return assets, such as industrial and rental properties.
Blackstone shareholders spooked
Another reason for the deal from Blackstone’s side is the need for a financial buffer to allow investor withdrawals.
a hike in withdrawals in October and November
The company saw a hike in withdrawals in October and November from Blackstone’s real estate fund, Breit. The fund is selling the stake in the two Vegas casinos, with proceeds going to help Breit meet these requests.
On Thursday, Breit posted a notice to shareholders on its website to inform investors it would allow them to withdraw only 0.3% the fund’s net assets in December, after exceeding its monthly limit of 2% by 2.7%, or around $1.8bn, in October. The withdrawal cap baulked Blackstone shareholders, hence the 10% fall in share price Thursday as investors rushed to exit following news of the VICI deal.