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Carl Icahn increases his stake in Caesars Entertainment

Tue, Mar 19, 9:18am by Staff Writer

A New York billionaire has upped his stake in one of Las Vegas’ most famous hotel companies.

Carl Icahn has increased his share in Caesars Entertainment Corp to 20.88 per cent, according to a report from Casino News Daily.

It became known earlier this month that the New York investor had become the company’s largest shareholder.

The Icahn Enterprises founder purchased 20,724,421 shares of the company to increase his stake.

The transactions marked Icahn’s third reported buy in a little over a month.

He paid $8.45 per share of the entertainment giant on Monday, close to the $8.50 to $8.55 he paid for the March 7 shares that he added to his portfolio.

Forbes reported that Mr Icahn paid between $8.73 and $9.39 for his initial shares in January and February.

The stock declined 5.9 per cent since Icahn’s disclosure to close at $8.16.

The 83-year-old businessman continues to work his way into the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality market and has been granted board representation at Caesars.

New board members for Caesars

“I believe the best path forward for Caesars requires a thorough strategic process to sell or merge the company to further develop its already strong regional presence, which will allow Caesars to continue to take advantage of the Caesars Rewards program bringing more and more players into its Vegas market,” Mr Icahn said in a press release.

The chief executive officer of Icahn Enterprises Keith Cozza, as well as James Nelson and Courtney Mather were named by the activist investor as the new members of Caesars’ 12-person Board of Directors, replacing a trio of now former members.

Under a recently penned agreement between Mr Icahn and the Las Vegas headquartered company, the businessman will be able to name a fourth director if Caesars failed to find a replacement of its departing CEO Mark Frissora within 45 days.

Mr Frissora was originally expected to step down in February, but it was announced he would stay with the company until April.

Sources close to the situation have said that Mr Icahn wants a person with ‘considerable experience in the gambling industry’ to replace Caesars’ outgoing chief.

The gaming and hospitality operator announced its plans to trim its corporate workforce to reduce annual costs by $40 million.

Caesars further clarified that many of the jobs cut would be positions that are currently vacant and all employees impacted would be offered severance packages.

As of December 31, 2018, Caesars’ balance sheet reflected $8.8 billion of debt and $1.5 billion of cash.

The company’s revenue jumped 72.4 per cent to $8.39 billion in 2018, boosted primarily by acquisitions.

Losses in its international segment mounted to $68 million from $18 million a year prior as it saw lower winnings from games and rising expenses.

Caesars emerged from bankruptcy in OCtober 2017 after its involvement with a private equity firm left it with $24 billion of debt in 2015.

The new Caesars Entertainment started operations with less debt and more cash flow, and was restructured into a real estate investment trust.

Caesars opened its first non-gaming property in Dubai at the weekend, consisting of two hotels, a Caesars Palace and Caesars Resorts, that will sit on the new man made island Bluewaters.

The celebratory opening included chef Gordon Ramsay, with guests treated to a fireworks show and live regional entertainment.

The property features nearly 500 rooms, 11 restaurants and a beach club.

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