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.

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
Star Wars VR Comes to Las Vegas
Sneak peak at the new "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" VR experience at the Grand Canal Shoppes.
Elaine Wynn continues her fight to change Wynn Resorts board
Elaine Wynn, the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts Ltd., is seeking to kick a friend of her ex-husband Steve Wynn off the company’s board of directors. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zillow is getting into house flipping in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal real estate reporter Eli Segall says flipping houses has waned in popularity after the housing bubble burst.
Ellis Island Buys Mt. Charleston Lodge
Ellis Island, which operates a casino, brewery and hotel just off the Strip, purchased the Mt. Charleston Lodge in early April.
Casinos to be penalized for allowing drug-impaired customers to gamble
Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo talks about an amendment making casinos subject to the same disciplinary standards of preventing people to gamble if impaired by drugs as they are for letting them play while intoxicated by alcohol.
Terrible Herbst to open large travel center in Southern Nevada
The 50,000-square-foot commercial travel center will include 96 fuel pumps and the third White Castle restaurant in Southern Nevada. Wade Tyler Millward reports.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Hooters owner talks about room upgrades at his hotel-casino
George Ruff, founder and senior principal of Trinity Hotel Investors L.L.C., owner of Hooters Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, talks about recent room upgrades at the hotel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Passengers Discuss Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air passengers voice their views on the airline at McCarran International Airport on April 16, 2018. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes
Trump Slams Amazon for Not Paying Enough in Taxes Trump tweeted his concerns about the company on Thursday. This isn't the first time Trump commented on the issues via Twitter. August 2017 December 2017 Amazon did hold back on paying state taxes in 1995, but the company has been routinely collecting state sales taxes since then. In 2016, the company's report from the Securities and Exchange Commission confirmed it paid $412 million in taxes.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
eyecandylab CEO shows augmented reality during NAB
Robin Sho Moser, CEO and co-founder of eyecandylab gives an augmented reality demonstration at his booth during the National Association of Broadcaster Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Trends in access to capital for local black business owners
Denette Braud, owner of Braud’s Funnel Cake Cafe, talks about what owning her own business means to her.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Adobe unveils #HackTheBracket application for March Madness
Adobe unveiled their #HackTheBracket application at the Adobe Summit trade show at Sands Expo. People can use data from Adobe Analytics to make their bracket for March Madness. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Adidas Signs Yankees' Star Aaron Judge
Adidas Signs New York Yankees Star Aaron Judge The slugger is set to don a new set of stripes this season after signing with the apparel company. Aaron Judge Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The deal includes branding on his batting gloves and wristbands. Judge, the AL's reigning Rookie of the Year, was previously under contract with Under Armour since 2014. Judge won the American League Rookie of the Year award last season after setting an MLB record for most homers in a rookie season (52).
Esports athletes are sponsored, too
Meet Red Bull-sponsored professional esports player Daryl S. Lewis, better known by his in-game name Snake Eyez. Nicole Raz Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bettor Investments turned into a bad bet
Bettor Investments formerly operated a Nevada-licensed entity betting operation. The company promised “conservative growth, profits and stability for our investors.” Matt Stuart, who ran the fund, shut it down in late 2016 and never made good on an agreement with shareholders.
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design
Starbucks Will Give You $10 Million for a Better Cup Design Get your thinking caps on because the company is looking for a new cup that's easier to recycle. The $10 million grant challenge sees Starbucks partnering with investor group Closed Loop Partners for the project. According to CNN Money, Aside from the new cup design challenge, Starbucks stated it will test a cup with an inner lining made from plant fibers to prevent hot liquid from leaking. Will you join the challenge for #Bettercups?
Las Vegas bartenders who worked the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival question what they were paid
Reneé Black, left, and her husband Griffin Black talk to the Review-Journal at their home in Las Vegas, Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Reneé was a bartender at Route 91, and Griffin was a bar back. They were hired as independent contractors, but received forms months later indicating they were employees. They also were never paid their last day of tips. Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Bad-beat jackpot money will finally be awarded
People who thought they had won in Station Casinos’ “bad beat jackpot” poker promotion were unhappy. They waited months to get paid. And now the bad-beat jackpot is gone.
New developments coming to Las Vegas' Craig Road
Gina Gavan, economic and business development director for North Las Vegas, discusses new development projects on Craig Road in North Las Vegas. Art Marroquin/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
Dallisa Hocking And A Grandmothers Psychic Gift
Dallisa Hocking’s new “boutique soul center” pays tribute to her late Grandma Ellie. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Can't pay the IRS? You do have options
There's a little more than five weeks until this year’s tax filing deadline of April 17. But many small business owners are wondering, “How am I going to pay my taxes?” When owners haven’t set aside enough money to cover what they owe the government, they have options. — The easiest and cheapest alternative may be to dip into personal savings. — If you have available credit, you may want to borrow from a lender or credit card. — Also, the IRS can work out an installment payment plan.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Events
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like