Eldorado Resorts buying Caesars in $17 billion casino merger

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Eldorado said it will pay $12.75 per share, a 28 percent premium to Friday's closing price, the casino operator said in a statement. Caesars, which operates more than 35 casinos in the USA, emerged from bankruptcy protection in late 2017, but it has been struggling since.

Eldorado Resorts, a regional casino operator with 26 properties in 12 states, will acquire Caesars in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $17.3 billion.

Eldorado and Caesars said they have identified benefits of US$500 million by creating a company with 60 owned, operated and managed casino-resorts across 16 states, and expect the deal to boost cash flow immediately.

Eldorado's shareholders will hold approximately 51 per cent of the combined company's outstanding shares, and Caesars shareholders, 49 per cent.

It will create one of the largest casino firms in the United States, and comes after a few turbulent years for Caesars.

The deal, which is expected to be announced on Monday, values Caesars at close to $13 a share, according to the sources.

Earlier this year, billionaire Carl Icahn, who is on the Caesars board of directors, revealed an enormous stake in the company and pushed for fundamental changes.

Meanwhile Eldorado Resorts, with a current market value of $4 billion and a long-term debt of just over $3 billion (as of the end of March), now owns 26 properties in 12 different states (though none in Las Vegas). It had 53 properties in 14 USA states and five countries outside the United States at the end of December.

Mr Icahn said he was "pleased" by the deal, adding in a statement: "It is rare that you see a merger where, because of the great synergies, "one plus one equals five". The Board unanimously concluded that the combination of these two companies creating an even stronger entity is a decision for our shareholders' consideration and vote for immediate ongoing value". Golden Nugget owner Tilman Fertitta proposed merging his restaurant and casino empire with Caesars a year ago, but was rejected by Caesars. But all of its top leadership will come from Eldorado, from Chairman Gary Carano and CEO Tom Reeg to other top spots. Eldorado owns 26 properties in 12 USA states.

"Eldorado's combination with Caesars will create the largest owner and operator of US gaming assets", Eldorado CEO Tom Reeg said in a statement. It will be based in Reno, Nevada, where Eldorado is based, with a "significant corporate presence" in Las Vegas, where Caesars is based.

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