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Unwin leaving CEO post at Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas CEO John Unwin, who has headed the Strip resort leading up to the property’s 2010 opening, announced Tuesday he will leave his post at the end of the year.

No replacement was named for Unwin, who will help in a consulting capacity to assist with a transition.

The 2,995-room Cosmopolitan is being sold to the Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII, a division of New York City-based Blackstone, for $1.73 billion.

The group received preliminary gaming license approval last week from the Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Gaming Commission will take up the application next week.

In a statement, Unwin said he plans to “shortly announce” a new venture.

Deutsche Bank build and opened the Cosmopolitan for $3.9 billion after the property’s original owner defaulted on the project. Unwin, a former Caesars Entertainment Corp. executive, helped develop much of the initial ideas for the resort and its marketing campaign.

“My task was to create a new type of luxury casino resort that would bring something different to the city while encapsulating the best of what Las Vegas has to offer,” Unwin said. “I have worked with an amazing team over the past five years to achieve that goal.”

Blackstone, a multinational private equity investment fund, expects to close the transaction this month.

Blackstone Global Head of Real Estate Jon Gray credited Unwin with achieving a “market-leading position by creating a unique point of view on Las Vegas, a distinctive guest experience and a sought-after brand.”

Deutsche Bank always intended to sell the resort and its 8.7-acre Strip location between Bellagio and CityCenter.

The Cosmopolitan is best known for its restaurants and nightclubs, including the recently opened Rose. Rabbit. Lie., and Marquee, which is one of the top-grossing clubs in the U.S. The centerpiece Chandelier Bar in the casino is three stories tall.

However, the hotel-casino has never turned an annual profit.

In a statement, Unwin said the Cosmopolitan “has consistently achieved” the highest average daily room rate and occupancy percentage among its peers. Casino revenue has grown 35 percent within the first nine months of 2014.

Blackstone said the property collects 80 percent of its revenue from the hotel and food and beverage operations. The Cosmopolitan has two 52-story towers and a 110,000-square-foot casino.

The Blackstone division owns $81 billion in real estate assets globally.

In Nevada, the company owns nearly 1,000 homes. Last year, Blackstone subsidiary Equity Office Partners acquired the 1.4-million-square-foot Hughes Center at Paradise and Flamingo roads for $347 million. The office park was renamed The HC | Hughes Center.

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

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