Harrah’s Confirms They Are Going Public Again

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Published on:
Oct/19/2010

(Associated Press) - Harrah's Entertainment Inc., the world's largest casino company, plans to go public again three years after two buyout firms took it private in a $30.7 billion deal that pushed the company billions of dollars into debt.

Harrah's said Monday in an amended regulatory filing that it would sell an unspecified number of new shares to raise as much as $575 million.

Most of the money -- an estimated $500 million -- would go toward finishing casino developments Harrah's has under way in Ohio and its home base of Las Vegas.

Separately, the New York hedge fund run by billionaire John Paulson said it will sell its 9.9 percent stake in Harrah's, following through on plans announced in August. Paulson & Co. Inc. got its stake in exchange for taking on $710.3 million in debt. Paulson bought most of that debt, $532 million, for $354.9 million -- nearly two-thirds its face value.

The new shares Harrah's is issuing will make its ownership pie larger, and the company and Paulson will combine to publicly sell a nearly 17 percent stake.

Harrah's two largest shareholders, Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital LP, will retain their controlling interest in the company, Harrah's said in its filing. But the company didn't quantify the firms' stake.

A spokeswoman for Harrah's declined comment beyond the filing, saying the company is in a quiet period.

As of June 30, Harrah's had long-term debt of $23.3 billion, most due in 2015 or later. The company assumed $12.4 billion in debt with the takeover by affiliates of Apollo and TPG in January 2008.

TPG and Apollo first approached Harrah's separately in 2006, then teamed with each other and others in the $90 per share deal in 2008.

The deal concluded just as the recession got a stranglehold on the gambling industry, and Harrah's has struggled ever since to make payments on that debt.

In convincing Nevada gambling regulators to approve the deal, Apollo and TPG executives said in December 2007 they planned to be long-term investors and continue pumping funds into Harrah's.

Harrah's did not give prices or timing on the new public offering, but said it would sell shares "as soon as practicable after this registration statement becomes effective."

It first told the Securities and Exchange Commission of its plan to offer the shares in a filing late last week.

Harrah's listed several projects it hopes to complete with the $500 million. They include:

-- The 660-room Octavius hotel tower at Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip, halted last year after its exterior was finished.

-- A joint venture in Ohio with Rock Gaming LLC.

-- An entertainment and dining area linking the Imperial Palace and Flamingo casinos on the Las Vegas Strip's east side.

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