New Hard Rock Hotel owners plan to overhaul the Las Vegas property

Updated April 6, 2018 - 6:14 pm

When Virgin Group founder Richard Branson was at the Hard Rock Hotel last week to announce the resort’s purchase, yours truly asked during a Q&A what it sold for and who the majority owner is.

“We’re not going to make this a boring business talk,” Branson replied. “But I’m sure somebody can let you know some other time.”

Well, he was right. And while the flamboyant British billionaire captured the spotlight for the deal, much of the new ownership, in fact, hails from Canada.

The Hard Rock — whose sales price wasn’t announced at the party-like news conference March 30 or in Virgin’s press release — traded for about $500 million, a source familiar with the matter said this week.

The purchase was backed by a $200 million loan from JPMorgan Chase Bank, property records indicate.

The buyers paid a lot less for the resort than prior owners. The Hard Rock opened in 1995, and developer Peter Morton reached a deal in 2006, during the bubble years, to sell it for $770 million in cash.

Plans now call for the Hard Rock, a mile east of the Strip at 4455 Paradise Road, to be rebranded as a Virgin property by the end of 2019. Its new CEO, Richard “Boz” Bosworth, said last week that the owners will spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” overhauling the hotel-casino, which will keep the Hard Rock name until the changeover is finished.

Hard Rock Ownership

The buyers include Branson’s Virgin Hotels unit; Los Angeles-based Juniper Capital Partners; Bosworth, founder of Las Vegas’ Bosworth Hospitality Partners; Toronto’s Dream Alternatives, which announced this week that it spent $29 million for a roughly 10 percent stake; and Toronto’s Cowie Capital Partners.

Other investors include the Laborers’ (or Labourers’, if you’re up north) International Union of North America’s central and eastern Canada pension fund, based in Ontario, and Toronto’s Fengate Capital Management, which said it “partnered” on the deal and is managing its investment on behalf of LiUNA.

One of the American firms also has Canadian ties. Juniper founder Jay Wolf is originally from Toronto, said Joe Mancinelli, chair of the LiUNA pension fund.

Even the seller, Brookfield Asset Management, has a Toronto headquarters.

Canadians are no strangers to Las Vegas. They snapped up low-priced houses here after the market crashed and are the largest source of foreign tourism.

Some 1.44 million Canadians visited in 2016, making up 25 percent of all international visitors, said Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority spokeswoman Maria Phelan.

LiUNA represents construction workers and other laborers, and the pension fund overseen by Mancinelli has about $5.5 billion (American) in assets.

It’s the largest single shareholder in the Hard Rock, having put in more than $100 million, he said.

According to Mancinelli, it costs more than $1 million per unit to build a hotel in Las Vegas, so the 1,500-room Hard Rock seemed “like a pretty good deal.”

Still, he said, “What made the deal sexier was the branding of it. The Virgin brand is a pretty powerful brand.”

Virgin Hotels, Fengate, Cowie, Dream and Juniper’s managing partners did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Bosworth also did not return a call and an email seeking comment, but a PR rep sent a statement from him that said: “I am not at liberty to disclose the property structure or discuss details surrounding the transaction.”

JPMorgan Chase “wouldn’t be able to comment,” spokeswoman Maura Cordova said.

A Brookfield representative, Sherif El-Azzazi, said he “can confirm the sale did occur,” but regarding the price and the buyers, “we have no comment to make at this time.”

Meanwhile, Canadians may have piled in to buy the hotel, but in case you’re wondering, there’s no word on whether the Hard Rock will get a Tim Hortons anytime soon.

Contact Eli Segall at esegall@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0342. Follow @eli_segall on Twitter.

Business
Dig This opens new location In Las Vegas
Remember when you were a kid and played with construction toys in the sand box? Dig This Las Vegas has the same idea, except instead of toy bulldozers, you get to play with the real thing. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Town Square developer Jim Stuart building again in Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ real estate bubble took developers on a wild ride, something Jim Stuart knows all too well. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Salon opens at Veterans Village
T.H.E. Salon, owned by Nicole Christie, celebrated their opening at the Veterans Village with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Southwest Airlines considering Las Vegas-Hawaii flights
Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly says the airline is "very focused" on Hawaii. Hawaiians have a strong presence in Las Vegas.The city’s unofficial status is “Hawaii’s ninth island.” In 2018, at least 2,958 people from Hawaii moved to Nevada. Of those, 88.7 percent moved into Clark County, according to driver license surrender data. According to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, 310,249 people came to Las Vegas from Hawaii in 2018.
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day
Fewer Nevadans are celebrating Valentine's Day. About 1.2 million Nevadans are expected to celebrate this year, a 5 percent drop from 2018. A growing number of people consider Valentine’s Day over-commercialized. Others weren’t interested in the holiday or had nobody to celebrate with. But spending is expected to rise. Those who do celebrate are buying for more people. The average American is expected to spend about $162 this year for Valentine’s Day, a 57 percent jump from a decade prior. Katherine Cullen, director of industry and consumer insights at NRF
Foreclosures of mansions in Las Vegas
Las Vegas was ground zero for America's foreclosure crisis after the housing bubble burst. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rick Helfenbein talks about the impact of tariffs on the clothing industry
MAGIC fashion convention showcases men's clothing trends
The MAGIC fashion convention has come to Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to showcase some of the hottest clothing trends for men. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Allegiant Air flight attendants learn how to handle a water landing
Field instructor Ashleigh Markel talks about training prospective flight attendants for Allegiant Air getting live training with a raft for a water landing at the Heritage Park Aquatic Complex in Henderson on Monday. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery speaks about the new Smith & Wollensky restaurant coming to the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian in Las Vegas.
Smith & Wollensky CEO Michael Feighery talks about Las Vegas return
Michael Feighery, CEO of Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, discusses the restaurant's upcoming return to the Las Vegas Strip.
Apartments to Come to Hughes Center
Developer Eric Cohen discusses his current building project at the Hughes Center office park in Las Vegas, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Stratosphere to rebrand to The STRAT
The Stratosphere, a 1,150-foot-tall property in Las Vegas will be renamed The STRAT Hotel, Casino and Skypod.
Local designers’ picks for the Las Vegas Market
The trends that local interior designers are noticing at the Las Vegas Market this year. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trends in bath products at Las Vegas Market
Camille Herd, the showroom manager for European Bath Kitchen Tile & Stone, talks about the popularity of free-standing bath tubs. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Kitchen trends at Las Vegas Winter Market
Las Vegas Winter Market displayed kitchen trends that mirror common dining accessories at Strip eateries. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Emerging trends in gifts at Las Vegas Market
Julie Smith Vincenti, curator for the First Look showroom tour on gifts and lifestyle, talks about the emerging trends in those categories for this season. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Las Vegas house prices are rising
Southern Nevada home prices were up 12 percent year-over-year in November.
Caesars Republic Scottsdale
Caesars Entertainment Corp. is building its first non-gaming hotel in the United States in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Caesars Entertainment Corp.)
Interior designer Mikel Welch talks about trends for Las Vegas Market
Interior designer Mikel Welch, who also is the on-camera designer for TLC’s Trading Spaces, discusses the trends he sees for the 2019 Las Vegas Winter Market. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
SHOT Show 2019: MEGGITT Virtual Training
MEGGIT showcases its virtual training system at SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
MGM delivers 700 meals to TSA workers at McCarran
Chefs at Garde Manger at Mandalay Bay provided 700 meals to federal employees who are affected by the government shutdown. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
SHOT Show 2019: A "nonsemi-automatic” weapon
Brandon Dunham of Nevada-based Franklin Armory show off the company’s new rifle prototype it calls a “nonsemi-automatic” weapon. The gun does not use a gas system to fire.
Las Vegas-based concrete repair company knows how to beat the heat
ART Concrete Solutions, a Las Vegas concrete-repair firm, addresses the challenges of construction in the extreme heat and sun of Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas based company brings color to concrete in the desert heat
Semco Modern Seamless Surface, a Las Vegas surface engineering company, knows how to put color in concrete construction in the Vegas heat. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Fun photo booth at World of Concrete
World of Concrete show at the Las Vegas Convention Center sponsored by DeWalt gives conventioneers a chance for photos with giant tools. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
SHOT Show 2019: Laserstar Technologies
Laerstar Technologies showed off their laser engraving machines, that can be used to personalize anything from guns and knives, to medical tools and household items. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
World of Concrete Show has big equipment on display
World of Concrete Show has big equipment on display at the Las Vegas Convention Center including an impact crusher, concrete pump and a self-erecting portable concrete batch plant. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Shot Show 2019: Kalashnikov USA shows off new products
Jonathan Mossberg of Kalashnikov USA talks about new products on display at Shot Show 2019 in Las Vegas.
ad-high_impact_4
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing