Casino chain Caesars Entertainment is up for sale, but billionaire Carl Icahn is more eager to sell than the company’s board. As reported by the NY Post, the 83-year-old investor thinks the board of America’s biggest gaming company is asking too high a price for the $6.2 billion company in its ongoing talks to merge the company.
Caesars Entertainment, which owns Harrahs, Paris, Bally’s, LINQ, Caesars Palace and several other Las Vegas Casinos, started off its auction two months ago with an offer price of $13 per share. In the first week of June, rival casino operator, Eldorado, countered with a bid of $10.50 a share. The offer represented only a 15% premium over the stock price, leading the board to unanimously reject the bid. Icahn too rejected Eldorado’s “underwhelming” bid, as one source described it. Still, he is reportedly at odds with the board as to how far they can negotiate. The price of Caesars’ stock closed at $9.13 a share on Thursday, placing the company market capitalization at $5.72 billion.
Also, on Monday, Eldorado announced that its sale of three casinos and other assets, including real estate, for $385 million. The incoming funds could help Eldorado raise money toward what is expected to be a stock-and-cash offer for Caesars Entertainment. An underlying reason for the sale, may be that Eldorado execs anticipate that the merger might be blocked by gaming regulators if they bid much higher and become too leveraged, one sources told the Post. Caesars, which went bankrupt in 2015, due to its high debt, still has over $18 billion of net debt that would be need to be taken over by any buyer. Eldorado has already publicized that it is not keen on debt levels exceeding 5.5 times, which hints that the company would not offer price a price over $12 a share, as per investment bank Jefferies.
Icahn, who owns a 28.5 percent stake of Caesars with swaps, purchased much of his stocks in January for $9 per share. He elected three out of the eight members on the company board, and he also appointed the CEO, who also has a say on any deal. Those four votes and another nudge from Icahn can make the deal feasible if Eldorado offers close to $12 per share. “They want to do something if it is at the right price,” a source said. “If Eldorado raises their price, something will happen.”
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