Caesars Entertainment Sells Rio for Millions Less Than 2017 Valuation

Posted on: September 23, 2019, 05:46h. 

Last updated on: September 23, 2019, 06:11h.

The Las Vegas Rio is expected to be sold by Caesars Entertainment Corp to a principal at New York-based Imperial Companies, a real estate investment firm, for $516.3 million.

The Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is being sold by Caesars Entertainment to a principal at a real estate investment firm (Image:

The sales price for the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino is much lower than the $636 million to $836 million valuation range completed in 2017 by Moelis & Co. for Caesars, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The sale is pending even though — close to a year ago — the 2,500 all-suite hotel and casino was rumored to be slated for demolition. The site was rumored to become home to a major league baseball park.

More recently, the sale of the Rio became more likely, as it was not included in Caesar upgrades. The transaction will likely close in Q4 of 2019, according to a note to investors from Deutsche Bank. The deal needs final approval from regulators.

On Friday, Imperial put $5 million into an escrow account as an initial payment. Under the terms of the transaction, Caesars will operate the venue for at least two years, and will pay $45 million a year in rent.

Imperial can also pay Caesars $7 million to extend the lease for a third year. Later, Caesars could manage the property or provide services to Imperial as the venue is transitioned to the new owner.

Caesars Retains World Series of Poker

The World Series of Poker has been held at the Rio since 2005. The event will likely be relocated to the $375 million, 550,000-square-foot Caesars Forum conference center. That venue is to open next year.

We view the transaction as a distinct positive for … [Caesars and Imperial], as it provides for healthy de-leverage, while the net transaction multiple, in our view, is very strong. We would also note that the transaction eliminates the need for [the two companies] to invest capital into the asset, a capital allocation we believe would have been considerable,” Deutsche Bank analyst Carlo Santarelli said in the note.

The Rio was opened by Las Vegas entrepreneur Tony Marnell on property off The Strip three decades ago. It was the first Las Vegas venue with a buffet kitchen in the dining area. It is also notable for its large nightclub, extensive use of glass, and upgraded pool.

Recently, Caesars opted not to vie for a sought-after casino license in Japan. Instead, it will concentrate on its anticipated acquisition by Eldorado Resorts, Bloomberg reported.

Eldorado Resorts to Purchase Caesars

Caesars is expected to be purchased by Reno-based Eldorado Resorts Inc. for $17.3 billion. Eldorado CEO Thomas Reeg said in June that one or two of Caesars’ nine Las Vegas properties would soon be sold, foreshadowing the Rio sale.

“This deal allows Caesars Entertainment to focus our resources on strengthening our attractive portfolio of recently renovated Strip properties and is expected to result in incremental (cash flow) at those properties,” Tony Rodio, CEO of Caesars Entertainment, said in a recent statement. Rodio also noted how Caesars benefits by retaining the World Series of Poker and Caesars Rewards customers.

As Eldorado acquires Caesars, it will create the largest domestic gaming company in terms of number of casinos. Caesars Entertainment resorts operate under the Caesars, Harrah’s and Horseshoe brands.

Imperial is led by founding partners Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli. The firm “is a vertically integrated real estate investment, development and management platform focused primarily on mixed-use, residential, and hospitality assets across all major US markets.”

It has deployed approximately $1 billion of total capitalization across its various investments since the launch in 2014, “with the goals of value creation and long-term wealth preservation through ownership, development and/or strategic partnerships,” the company website says.