Ameristar set to acquire most of Neilsen Estate holdings

Feb 28, 2011 9:39 AM

Ameristar Casinos Inc. announced on Monday that it planned to buy 26,150,000 shares in the company currently owned by the Neilsen Estate, the foundation that received the majority ownership following the death of CEO Craig Neilsen.

The company said it would pay $17.50 per share or $457,625,000 for 87 percent of the entire company holdings of the Estate. The acquisition also amounts to about 45 percent of the total number of company shares outstanding.

In order to generate the necessary funds to complete the acquisition, Ameristar officials said they planned to seek $2.1 billion in new debt financing. Of that amount, the company said, $1.5 billion would be used to retire existing debt while the remainder would be used to purchase the foundation shares and to have sufficient operating` cash.

Craig Neilsen took over the operation of the gaming company following the death of his father, Ray Neilsen in 1971. He made a number of acquisitions and took the company public. The company’s shares trade on the NASDAQ with the symbol ASCA.

Despite being left a paraplegic from injuries suffered in a 1985 auto accident, Craig Neilsen remained a hands-on operator of the company. In 2002, he was recognized as the year’s "Best Performing CEO by the American Gaming Association.

He died in November, 2006.