Top executive moves to take Golden Nugget private


The top executive at the company that owns the downtown Las Vegas Golden Nugget and the one in Laughlin is attempting to take the company private, again.

Landry’s Restaurants Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tilman Fertitta sent a letter Friday to a special committee of the company’s board of directors to begin go-private discussions, a Wednesday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said.

As part of the transaction, Houston-based Landry’s wholly-owned subsidiary Saltgrass Inc. would be spun off into a separate company.

The special committee was formed last month to review strategic alternatives for Landry’s, including a possible sale of the company.

The board also hired New York-based global investment bank Moelis & Co. as financial adviser.

Fertitta, who owns nearly 56 percent of the company’s stock, would acquire all shares of Landry’s he does not own and shareholders would receive shares in Saltgrass.

While Fertitta would also own shares in Saltgrass, he would not own more than the other shareholders’ stakes.

The Saltgrass subsidiary operates 42 Saltgrass Steak House restaurants, including one in the Golden Nugget Laughlin, which accounted for nearly 19 percent of Landry’s hospitality revenues in 2008.

This is Fertitta’s third attempt to take the company private.

Landry’s reported in January it wouldn’t close a deal of $13.50 per share because the SEC wanted information from Jeffries & Co. and Wells Fargo, the banks financing the deal, that the parties had agreed to keep confidential.

His first attempt to buy the company at $21 per share died in October because after Hurricane Ike damaged some of the company’s properties in Texas.

Landry’s owns 175 restaurants, including the Chart House, Saltgrass and Rainforest Cafe brands. It also owns amusement parks and marinas in addition to the Golden Nugget properties.

The company has spent nearly $200 million improving the Golden Nugget since acquiring the downtown property in 2005 for $295 million.

A new 500-room hotel tower, at a cost of $150 million, is scheduled to open Nov. 20.

Shares of Landry’s climbed 40 cents, or 3.68 percent, to $11.26 per share in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

 

Contact reporter Arnold M. Knightly at aknightly@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.

 

 

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