Caesars unit clears Nevada hurdle in bankruptcy emergence

Updated August 24, 2017 - 2:15 pm

For Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s lengthy and, so far, triumphant climb out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, it was “Veni, vidi, vici” — “I came, I saw, I conquered.”

Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Tony Alamo, like his state Gaming Control Board counterpart, A.G. Burnett, two weeks earlier, quoted the Latin phrase attributed to Julius Caesar on the Battle of Zela after commissioners unanimously approved a series of registrations and licensing that will enable the Las Vegas-based gaming giant to clear Nevada’s final regulatory hurdle while in bankruptcy.

Caesars has 47 properties worldwide, including nine in Las Vegas.

Caesars CEO Mark Frissora, Tim Donovan, the company’s general counsel and compliance officer, and chief financial officer Eric Hession explained a merger of Caesars Entertainment Corp. with Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. and the emerging company’s exit from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as well as registrations of subsidiary companies and LLCs and the licensing and suitability of several corporate officers, executives and key employees.

Most members of the commission sat in on or read transcripts from Caesars’ presentation to the state Gaming Control Board in Carson City on Aug. 9 at which board members unanimously recommended approval of every regulatory matter.

Commissioners, who didn’t have to approve the bankruptcy plan but instead licensed and registered the new post-bankruptcy entities, had no objections in their hearing, but questioned executives to fully understand the corporate restructuring.

Under terms of the bankruptcy emergence plan, outlined in an 839-page registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, Caesars would separate nearly all of its U.S.-based real estate property assets from its gaming operations. Caesars Entertainment would continue to own and manage the gaming operations and the property assets would be held by a newly created real estate investment trust owned by some creditors.

Caesars filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2015 and after two years of contentious negotiations among creditors, Judge Benjamin Goldgar of the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago approved the bankruptcy plan in January 2017.

Company shareholders overwhelmingly approved a merger in two separate votes late last month.

Caesars is now down to two jurisdictions needing to approve the company’s emergence from bankruptcy. Company officials will meet with regulators in Louisiana and Missouri in September and plan to escape bankruptcy in early October.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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