Caesars Eyeing Las Vegas Strip Asset Sale in Early 2022, Says CEO Tom Reeg
Posted on: November 3, 2021, 09:17h.
Last updated on: November 3, 2021, 12:12h.
Long-running scuttlebutt regarding when Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) will sell a property on the Las Vegas Strip could morph from chatter to reality early next year.
Amid a flurry of high profile Strip asset sales this year, including the Venetian and Sands Convention Center in March and the Cosmopolitan in September, speculation intensified regarding when Caesars would divest one of its Sin City properties. Previously, the operator said such a transaction would not occur until next year, and that’s the timeline it’s sticking to.
We also think this is an opportune time to execute on our strategy of a strip asset sale. So you should expect us to put that in motion in the early part of ’22,” said CEO Tom Reeg on the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call on Tuesday.
Reeg didn’t specify which one of the operator’s eight Sin City venues could be on the sale block. The other from that group — Caesars Palace — is owned by VICI Properties (NYSE:VICI).
Sale Could Fetch Premium Price
The comparisons aren’t apples-to-apples, but recent Las Vegas gaming property transactions provide some template for realistic price ranges on a Caesars’ asset sale. Additionally, the operator has scarcity value on its side.
“Now we’ve got a track record that we can point to in terms of what the property can generate, and the playing field has been cleared with the Cosmo and Aria trades, to where we should have a pretty robust — we should encounter pretty robust demands for a center strip asset that, frankly, may be one of the last ones to trade for quite some time,” said Reeg.
In July, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) sold the property assets of Aria and Vdara to private equity firm Blackstone (NYSE:BX) for $3.89 billion in cash in a sale-leaseback transaction. Reeg didn’t say if Caesars is considering a sale-leaseback or a traditional divestment.
But he notes, “We’d expect to sell a single property and be done.”
Following the 2020 takeover by Eldorado Resorts that created “new Caesars,” speculation swirled regarding which of its Las Vegas properties Caesars could part with. Planet Hollywood and Paris were often the epicenters of those rumors.
In a deal struck with VICI on the day it announced its offer for Caesars in June 2019, Eldorado granted the landlord rights of first refusal on Flamingo Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, Paris Las Vegas, and Planet Hollywood. Those rights extend to a second possible deal, which would include the remainder of that group — assuming one sale pact is reached — and the LINQ Hotel & Casino.
Caesars Property Sale: Big Cash Booster
Combine a Las Vegas sale with incoming cash from the sale of William Hill’s international assets, paring of the NeoGames (NASDAQ:NGMS) stake, and increasingly robust cash flow from its land-based casinos, and Caesars could have “well in excess of $5 billion of cash to deploy in 2022,” said Reeg.
Not surprisingly, some of that capital will be spent on iGaming and sports wagering. Those segments have long been viewed as catalysts for Caesars stock, and Reeg sees the digital business turning positive on the basis of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) by the start of the 2023 football season.
However, Reeg adds, “The vast majority of that cash is going to go to pay down debt.” Caesars is aiming to reduce its annual interest expenses to $300 million to $400 million below where those costs were when the Eldorado takeover was finalized.
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