Pinnacle sells Argentina casinos for $40 million

Pinnacle Entertainment sold its two Argentina-based casinos for $40 million to a company in the South American country on the same day the regional casino operator said it was issuing $250 million of new notes to pay down debt.

In Thursday filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Las Vegas-based Pinnacle said the deal to sell its two casinos was subject to regulatory approvals.

Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Joel Simkins told investors the deal was in line with the new Chief Executive Officer Anthony Sanfilippo's recent comments about focusing the company's efforts on its regional casinos in Louisiana, St. Louis and Indiana.

"We are not surprised to see new management shed these assets as (the company) continues to focus on minimizing distractions as it works to improve (cash flow) margins at its primary properties," Simkins said.

In March, Pinnacle opened a $380 million suburban St. Louis casino but canceled plans for a second hotel-casino in Lake Charles, La. It's proceeding on building a hotel-casino in Baton Rouge, which was one of the reasons given for the $250 million debt issuance.

General Growth Properties adds loans to reorganization

Bloomberg News reported Thursday that mall operator General Growth Properties Inc. has won court approval to add two new loans totaling $895.5 million to its Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan. Both loans are tied to Strip properties.

Citing a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing, Bloomberg News said General Growth's Fashion Show LLC, tied to the Fashion Show mall, will borrow $645.9 million and Phase II Mall Subsidiary LLC, tied to the Shoppes at Palazzo, will borrow $249.6 million.

The filing also showed, Bloomberg News reported, that as of Wednesday, 220 of General Growth's units have exited Chapter 11, closing 99 loans worth about $12 billion in debt.

In Las Vegas, General Growth owns the Boulevard, Meadows and Fashion Show malls, the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian and the Shoppes at Palazzo.

Shares of General Growth rose 22 cents, or 1.4 percent, Thursday to close at $15.94 on the New York Stock Exchange.


Mortgage rates slide in week but stay above 5 percent

Average rates for 30-year fixed mortgages slipped this week, but stayed above 5 percent for the fifth straight week, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

The average rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages was 5.06 percent this week, down a tick from 5.07 percent last week. A year ago, 30-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 4.84 percent, Freddie Mac said.

Rates had dropped to a record low of 4.71 percent in December, pushed down by a campaign by the Federal Reserve to reduce borrowing costs for consumers. The program ended at the end of March .

This week, the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.39 percent, unchanged from last week.