Jim Murren, ex-MGM Boss, Could Be Next Big Name in Scorching SPAC Space

Posted on: September 9, 2020, 11:06h. 

Last updated on: September 9, 2020, 02:28h.

Former MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) CEO Jim Murren is reportedly considering launching a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) with a pair of ex-investment bankers, leveraging his experience in the gaming industry.

Jim Murren SPAC
Former MGM CEO Jim Murren, seen here in January, is considering launching a SPAC. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Murren left the helm of the Bellagio operator in March to lead Nevada’s COVID-19 response task force. His non-compete agreement with his former employer expires next March. Bloomberg reports that the ex-MGM leader is working with Edward King and Daniel Fetters, formerly of Morgan Stanley, on potential deals in the entertainment, live events, and online gaming spaces.

We’re going to be thoughtful and do our homework,” Murren said in an interview. “I’ve got a lot of good contacts in the financial industry and there is a lot opportunity.

Should Murren and his partners eventually form a SPAC, he’d be the latest big name to enter an arena that’s become one of the hottest topics on Wall Street this year. SPACs, also known as blank check companies, raise capital through an initial public offering (IPO) and use those proceeds to buy another entity. The outcome of that is the acquired firm usually goes public, rewarding both its early investors and the SPAC backers.

News of Murren’s possible foray into the world of special purpose vehicles comes after hedge fund legend Bill Ackman raised $4 billion in a SPAC IPO in July. The news also arrived on the same day that real estate titan Sam Zell said he’s launching a blank check firm.

Right Pedigree

Following more than two decades at MGM, including more than 11 years as chairman and chief executive officer, it’s not surprising that Murren is evaluating opportunities involving gaming and live entertainment. He’s credited with integral roles in building T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and bringing the first professional sports franchise, the NHL’s Golden Knights, to the city.

Relating to possible SPAC ambitions, Murren oversaw the development of BetMGM, the operator’s internet casinos and sports betting platform that’s a joint venture with GVC Holdings. That’s relevant because the combination of online gaming and blank check companies is scorching hot this year.

Not only did DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) go public in April via a reverse merger with a blank check firm, at least three other internet gaming firms are doing the same. Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget Online Gaming (GNOG) is slated to go public this quarter in a merger with his SPAC, Landcadia Holdings II Inc. (NASDAQ:LCA), while dMY Technology Group Inc. (NYSE:DMYT) and Rush Street Gaming are coming together on a $1.8 billion deal.

Last week, Skillz Inc. said it’s merging with special purpose vehicle Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. (NYSE:FEAC) in a transaction valuing the online gaming firm at $3.5 billion.

Murren and his partners are looking to raise $300 million or more and already had conversations with underwriters, reports Bloomberg.

Odds and Ends

Murren, 58, acknowledges that the SPAC space is getting crowded this year. He’s correct about that. There have been close to 70 blank check IPOs this year, raising more than $25 billion combined.

That’s a densely populated field. But Murren’s comments to Bloomberg indicate he’s wagering his name and experience steering MGM can separate his new entity from the pack.

The news agency also reports that Andrew Pascal, a former Wynn Resorts executive and Elaine Wynn’s nephew, could be involved with Murren’s SPAC. But an agreement to that effect isn’t final.