More Harrah’s offers on the table?

Feb 13, 2007 1:32 AM

Is there another offer for Harrah’s taking shape? The bottom line appears to be no, as of several days ago, a fact that has not slowed the tendency of wishful thinkers to keep the rumble of speculation at a high level.

The question was raised since Goldman Sachs dropped its coverage of Harrah’s to avoid the appearance of a conflict with a client that has an interest in the publicly traded Las Vegas-based casino company.

A more likely explanation for the Goldman action, according to a gaming executive outside Harrah’s with good Wall Street connections, is that Goldman wants to syndicate some of its interest in the purchase of Harrah’s by Apollo Management and the Texas Pacific Group.

Harrah’s is obligated to pay a breakup fee of $500 million should it accept an offer other than the one from the Texas Pacific and Apollo Management funds.

That’s a lot of money, but the payment of big break-up fees is nothing new. Steve Wynn collected in a big way when the late Arthur Goldberg grabbed Caesars Palace away from him.

Ditto for Pinnacle Entertainment when Columbia Sussex outbid Pinnacle for the Aztar resorts.

So might there be another deal at some point?

A well-connected veteran of more than one mega-deal fielded the query with a shrug, "What’s another half-billion when you’re talking about a list of assets like those held by Harrah’s, and the fact the deal they have already adds up to $27 billion."

He gave it another thought and added, "Almost anything can happen when you combine a lot of money, ego and imagination."

Time to quit

Trump Entertainment Resorts President James Perry says most U.S. casinos will be offering smoke-free environments over the next several years.

He offered his views as Atlantic City took the first steps toward a partial ban of smoking in casinos.

"We want to be prepared to operate in a smoke-free environment," he said, reflecting in terms of the evolving big picture.

Thinking big!

Penn National Chairman Peter Carlino has certainly changed his tune as it concerns his view of growth opportunities for the company.

There was a time when he spoke cautiously of anything that might take the company too far beyond the horizon, as it could be seen from the company’s Wyomissing, Pa. headquarters.

Not any more, not since Carlino and his team took a big swing at trying to acquire all of Harrah’s. They must have enjoyed the feeling generated by that effort.

Carlino says flatly that the company wants to be in Atlantic City and Las Vegas and is studying "a variety of possibilities here and around the world."

How’s that for big thinking?

Nothing better
than Candlelight

South Point Food and Beverage Manager Steve Delmont enjoys the satisfying feel of nostalgia associated with his current assignment.

He’s preparing another updated version of the restaurant he first opened more than 40 years ago when Las Vegas was a much different place.

Delmont was responsible for what was known as the Candlelight Room when it opened in the early 1960s at the Flamingo. As fine dining places went in those days, it was one of the best known on the Strip.

South Point owner Michael Gaughan, who has spent much of his life in Las Vegas, remembered the Candlelight with fondness and when he decided to add a fine dining restaurant at his Barbary Coast in 1981 he called on Delmont to re-create the Candlelight Room.

Only the 1981 version was known as Michael’s. It offered a high-end dining experience that quickly developed a wide following, drawing some of the best customers staying at other hotels — Caesars, The Mirage and so forth.

Delmont remembers author William F. Buckley saying with a satisfied look, "You serve an honest steak."

When the Barbary and other Gaughan hotels were sold to Boyd and the Barbary was subsequently sold to Harrah’s as Gaughan exited Boyd Gaming and took over the South Point as a sole proprietorship, he held onto his rights to use the Michael’s name at some future time.

That time has arrived and he called on Delmont to create yet another Michael’s.

"We’re taking the whole crew with us, even the front door from Michael’s at the Barbary Coast," Delmont said, adding that he guesses that this newest Michael’s may be open sometime in April.