Caesars Entertainment restructures debt to avoid $1 billion in 2015 payments


Caesars Entertainment Corp. announced a multipronged debt restructuring effort to deal with the most pressing portion of the company’s gaming industry-high $23 billion of long-term debt.

Under the plan, announced Tuesday after stock markets closed, the company won’t reduce any of its total debt.

However, the moves will eliminate more than $1 billion in obligations that are due in 2015.

Caesars plans to raise $1.75 billion in new debt that will have longer maturity dates, with the proceeds used to pay the 2015 figure. Meanwhile, the company plans to sell 5 percent of its equity to institutional investors and will pursue listing the shares at a future date.

The action came the day before Caesars was expected to announce its first-quarter earnings. During the company’s conference call today, analysts are expected to question company executives about the restructuring.

Moody’s Investors Service on Monday predicted the company would have to restructure this year to stave off potential bankruptcy. Moody’s analyst Peggy Holloway predicted the company would burn through $1 billion in cash this year and $2 billion next year.

Investors Tuesday reacted positively to the news.

Shares of Caesars, which fell 58 cents, or 3.03 percent, on the Nasdaq to close at $18.56, were up 7.76 percent in after-hours trading.

In a statement, Caesars Chairman and CEO Gary Loveman said the latest restructuring efforts, which include launching development vehicle Caesars Growth Partners, “lay the foundation for both significant de-leveraging and value creation at Caesars Entertainment.”

In addition to the debt refinancing and the equity sales, Caesars said it was closing the sale of three casinos to Caesars Growth Partners, launching an amendment to the company’s credit agreements and adding two new independent members to the company’s board of directors.

Loveman said the company’s attention would turn to extending the 2016 and 2017 maturities.

“Upon completion of the credit facility amendment announced today, Caesars will have added headroom under its maintenance covenant, providing Caesars with additional stability to execute its business plan,” Loveman said. “If Caesars successfully lists its equity securities, this independent listing should help facilitate the eventual raising of equity as well as liability management and debt reduction initiatives.”

Caesars said Tuesday it closed the sale of Bally’s, The Cromwell and The Quad to Caesars Growth Partners. The sale of Harrah’s New Orleans is expected to close following approval by the Louisiana Gaming Control Board sometime before June 30. The four-property deal was valued at $2.2 billion and $185 million in assumed debt.

“The transaction is designed to ensure continued access for Caesars and each of the properties being sold to the Total Rewards network and other Caesars resources,” Loveman said.

Caesars Entertainment previously disclosed it received letters from two law firms claiming to act on behalf of lenders and bondholders who contend the transaction is improper because Caesars is insolvent, which the company denied.

Caesars Growth Partners is 57-percent owned by Caesars Entertainment. The business owns Planet Hollywood Resort, a tower at Caesars Palace, Caesars’ online and social gaming operations, the World Series of Poker and the under-construction Horseshoe Casino Baltimore.

Loveman said Caesars Entertainment has an market capitalization of $2.6 billion, and Caesars Growth Partners has a market capitalization of $1.8 billion.

Caesars said in March that it will close the money-losing Harrah’s Tunica on June 2. It’s the largest of the company’s three casinos in northern Mississippi.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

 

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