Gaming Business

CBRE Buys Union Gaming in Bid to Bolster Gaming Investment Operations

Commercial real estate giant CBRE Group (NYSE: CBRE) is acquiring Union Gaming, a boutique investment bank focusing on the gaming industry.

Union Gaming principals Rich Moriarty left, and Bill Lerner seen here in 2012. CBRE is buying the gaming-focused investment bank. (Image: Las Vegas Sun)

The financial terms of the transaction weren’t disclosed. Based in Las Vegas, with another office in Hong Kong, Union Gaming was founded in 2008.

The firm provides traditional investment banking services, including debt and equity offerings, advising on mergers and acquisitions, in addition to feasibility reviews and studies.

Union Gaming’s employees and CBRE’s existing Las Vegas-based gaming investment sales team led by Michael Parks will form a combined global gaming team. Bill Lerner, Union Gaming’s co-founder, will serve as CBRE’s global head of gaming investment banking,” according to a statement issued by the real estate company.

Union Gaming also has an extensive research operation, covering one of the biggest rosters of casino companies among all investment banks. The firm covers four Las Vegas Strip operators, three companies with dominant Las Vegas locals footprints, all six Macau concessionaires, six regional gaming companies, all three publicly traded gaming real estate investment trusts (REITs), four ex-Macau Asian operators, and a trio of gaming technology providers.

Good Time to Make Deal for Union Gaming

For CBRE, the timing in acquiring Union Gaming appears to be excellent, as news of the deal comes amid a flurry of corporate activity in the gaming industry.

While traditional large-scale takeovers in the casino space are on pause in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, other transaction activity in the industry is brisk, including property sales, debt and equity raises, asset sales, planned spin-offs, and mergers involving special purposes acquisition companies (SPACs).

All that activity creates opportunity — and fees — for investment banks, including Union Gaming. The Las Vegas-based company has advised on $2 billion in mergers and acquisitions and participated in $28 billion worth of capital raises for clients.

Just this year, Union Gaming has been involved with private notes placements for Full House Resorts (NASDAQ:FLL), MGM China, and Resorts World’s New York City casino, among others, as well as participating in financing deals for MGM Growth Properties (NYSE:MGP), VICI Properties (NYSE:VICI), and Bally’s (NYSE:BALY).

What’s Next for CBRE

Dallas-based CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate services, and investment firm based on 2020 revenue, did not say if the Union Gaming purchase will be accretive to earnings, or when the transaction is scheduled to close.

CBRE’s Las Vegas team is active in sales of gaming properties, indicating there are obvious synergies between its existing operations and what Union Gaming brings to the table.

“Union Gaming fortifies CBRE’s position as a leader in the fast-growing global gaming sector,” said James Scott of CBRE Capital Advisors. “We are excited to add to our investment-banking depth through the addition of Union’s talented professionals, deep relationships across the gaming sector, and public-market capabilities.”

Todd Shriber

Gaming Financials, Casino Business----Todd Shriber got his start in financial markets as a reporter with Bloomberg News. Later, he became a trader at a Southern California-based long/short hedge fund, where he specialized in trading sector and international ETFs leading up to and during the financial crisis. Currently, he analyzes, researches, and writes on ETFs for a variety of Web-based publications and financial services firms. Shriber has been quoted in Barron's, CNBC.com, and The Wall Street Journal. His work has been published on sites such as Benzinga, ETF Daily News, ETF Trends, MarketWatch, Fox Business, and Nasdaq.com. He joined the Casino.org news writing team in 2019, and lives in Southern California, where he enjoys golf and taking his black lab to the dog park. When in Las Vegas, he likes to wager on college football, the NBA, three-card poker, and roulette, even though he knows better. Email: todd.shriber@casino.org

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Todd Shriber