MGM Resorts Forms Special Committee to Review Real Estate Assets

Posted on: January 25, 2019, 06:44h. 

Last updated on: January 25, 2019, 06:44h.

MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren announced in a brief statement yesterday the formation of an ad-hoc Board committee that will review the casino company’s real estate holdings and report back with recommendations on the assets.

MGM Resorts Jim Murren real estate
MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren says an ad-hoc committee is reviewing the company’s real estate portfolio. (Image: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Murren explained that MGM Board members John Kilroy, Keith Meister, and Paul Salem will serve on the committee. All three have relevant experience in real estate.

MGM prides itself on our capacity to nimbly respond to market opportunities,” Murren stated. The chief executive of Nevada’s largest employer added that the goal is to seek opportunities to enhance shareholder value.

Earlier this month, MGM Resorts announced it would be laying off around three percent of its workforce this year in an effort to reduce operating costs. The company will announce its Q4 and full-year 2018 earnings on February 13.

Activist Investors

Meister was appointed to the MGM Board of Directors just last week. The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Todd Prince wrote that the company bowed to pressure after Meister’s hedge fund Corvex Management obtained roughly a three percent ownership stake in the casino business.

Meister is one of billionaire Carl Icahn’s protégés. According to filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Corvex owns a little more than 3.9 million MGM shares.

Corvex isn’t the only hedge fund in on the MGM game.

HG Vora Capital has 6.5 million shares, which is a nearly five percent stake in the company. HG founder Jeffrey Smith is known around Wall Street for his corporate savviness. In 2014, Smith effectively took control of Darden Restaurants – the parent to Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse – while owning less than 10 percent of the group.

The ad-hoc committee will review MGM’s real estate structure.

The majority of the company’s casinos are owned by MGM Growth Properties, with their operations leased back to MGM. The real estate investment trust (REIT) owns seven Strip properties including Mandalay Bay and Park MGM. The subsidiary, which MGM Resorts has a 70 percent stake in, also owns MGM National Harbor in Maryland, MGM Springfield in Massachusetts, and Atlantic City’s Borgata.

MGM Resorts still owns the physical assets of Las Vegas’ Bellagio and MGM Grand.

Billionaires Like Gaming

Traded on the New York Stock Exchange, MGM shares have dropped more than 24 percent over the last year. It’s allowed such activist investors to take large positions.

Mario Gabelli, who runs GAMCO Investors, an investment and brokerage services firm, said this week that MGM’s current trading price is “very attractive.”

The billionaire said on CNBC’s Halftime Report Wednesday that investors should “put a bet on it.”

Icahn has also recently made a substantial play in the gaming industry. Just months after departing the casino business by selling Tropicana Entertainment for $1.85 billion, the corporate raider is said to have taken a position in Caesars Entertainment.

Sources talking with CNBC said the exact value of the buy wasn’t known, but it was at a level that gives him Icahn significant influence. Caesars shares are down 37 percent since this time last year.