Nearly 88 percent of the common stock held in U.S.-based casino group Caesars Entertainment Corp has been voted in favour of merging Caesars Acquisition Co with the parent. Caesars Acquisition investors agreed in a separate meeting to the deal, with just over 95 percent of common stock in favour.
Mark Frissora, president and chief executive of Caesars Entertainment, said in a company press statement the approvals were “an important milestone” in the emergence from bankruptcy of another unit, Caesars Entertainment Operating Co Inc – also known as CEOC – which runs some of the brand’s most famous and biggest money generating venues, including Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (pictured).
In January, Steven Tight, the group’s president of international development, told GGRAsia that the operating unit’s anticipated exit from bankruptcy “was great news”, adding that it would “facilitate Caesars’ continued growth plans in the [Asian] region”. That includes pursuit of a Japan casino licence, and the building, with local partners, of a foreigner-only casino in South Korea.
In May, Mr Tight told us at an investment conference in Tokyo that Caesars’ access to cash for pursuit of a Japan casino project “wouldn’t be an issue”. Capital expenditure of as much as US$10 billion for a Japan casino scheme has been mentioned by several of Caesars’ competitors.
The brand as a whole had struggled since a US$30-billion leveraged buyout, led by private equity firms Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital Management LLP, in 2008. Investment analysts noted Caesars Entertainment had missed out on opportunities for a Macau operation and had been hurt by a prolonged economic downturn in its core U.S. market following the global financial crisis of 2007 to 2008.
In June, CEOC said it was seeking to raise US$2.2 billion by forming a real estate investment trust (REIT) “to refinance the fee and leasehold interests” in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.
“The proceeds from this new-money financing will be used to repay CEOC’s existing indebtedness in accordance with the terms of CEOC’s plan of reorganisation,” the operating unit had stated in a press release.
Caesars Acquisition was spun off from the parent in November 2013 as part of debt restructuring for the operating company, which went into a protective form of bankruptcy known as “Chapter 11” in the U.S., in January 2015, with debt of US$18.4 billion. It was part of a plan to cut group debt by approximately US$10 billion.
Caesars Acquisition was formed to make an equity investment in Caesars Growth Partners LLC, which in turn was set up to acquire and develop operating assets in online gaming and land-based casinos.
Bringing Caesars Acquisition and Caesars Entertainment back together had previously been opposed by some Caesars Acquisition investors as not in their interests.
Stockholders of Caesars Entertainment also approved on Tuesday a number of other matters related to the restructuring of CEOC, and its emergence from bankruptcy.
“The successful conclusion of the restructuring will create new opportunities for incremental investments in growth. We appreciate our stockholders’ support in voting to approve the merger,” said Mr Frissora.
The group said in the Tuesday statement that Caesars Entertainment and the operating unit “continue to engage with regulators in the jurisdictions where approvals are required” for aspects of the operating company’s restructuring.
“Caesars Entertainment currently anticipates completing the merger and CEOC’s restructuring in the first week of October,” said Tuesday’s announcement by the parent.
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"The stronger mass growth [in Macau in the second quarter] should be viewed positively vis- à-vis [the] government’s stated priority”
Japanese brokerage Nomura