Trump might sell one or two casinos

Aug 21, 2007 6:15 AM

The price wasn’t right in the recent negotiations to sell Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. (TRMP) but those discussions may have brought out enough interest to dispose of one or more of the company’s three Atlantic City casinos.

At least, that’s what new Chief Executive Mark Juliano indicated in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

While a deal didn’t surface from the "indications of interest," Juliano was quoted as saying, the recent effort by the company to find a buyer did help the company to find parties that are potentially interested in buying parts of the company.

Juliano, who indicated he is making every effort to turn the company around, said he would consider any transaction that would add value to the company, but that there are no immediate plans for a sale.

What is on the front burner, he said, were cuts at the corporate and operating levels that he hoped would amount to some $19 million in savings annually.

To offset the growing competition from Pennsylvania, Juliano said, he was focusing on renovating rooms and enhancing the overall entertainment experience. A veteran casino executive with a stint in Las Vegas, Juliano readily admitted that Atlantic City would "never be the Las Vegas experience" but that he hoped to learn from the gambling Mecca.

Buyouts viewed

While stockholders of Station Casinos Inc. (STN) were voting to approve a $5.4 billion takeover of the company last week, Wall Street was in turmoil as the credit crunch moved into high gear.

Volatility prevailed as financial institutions looked toward the Federal Reserve for leadership and greater liquidity in the market place.

It’s that liquidity, or lack thereof, that has placed recent buyout announcements in question. In gaming, the moves involve Station’s management-led buyout offer of $90 a share; a similar $90 per share offered by Texas Pacific and Apollo Group private-equity funds for Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET), and a $64.50 per share offer for Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN) by Fortress private-equity fund.

Stock watchers say they are focused on Station’s buyout since it is scheduled to be completed in late September or in the fourth quarter. Financing has been offered by Deutsche Bank and JP Morgan.

"If the Station Casinos deal goes through as planned," said one analyst, "we’ll be more confident that the others will follow."

Tribal exclusivity

Negotiations between Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and representatives of the Seminole Tribe appear to be focusing on the Indians insisting on having the exclusive right to gamble the Las Vegas way.

Facing a federal deadline, Crist reportedly is attempting to extract as much tax revenue from the tribe’s profits as possible while the Seminoles, whose six casinos are led by the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, want the right to use class III machines and to install table games identical to those used in Las Vegas.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months. However, the federal government has intervened by setting a deadline. If a compact isn’t reached this week, the federal government could agree to a tribal compact leaving the state with no gaming revenues from the gambling expansion.

THE INSIDER: Management of Riviera Holdings Inc. (RIV) says it has agreed to discuss the takeover of the company by Riv Acquisition Holdings Inc. The latter group previously offered $34 a share for the company.

Also, RIV said it had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with the Culinary Union. The contract reportedly mirrors the agreement signed by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET).

Anil Daswani, gaming analyst at Citi Investment Research, has upgraded the stock of Melco PBL Entertainment Ltd. from "hold" to "buy."

A malfunctioning slot machine, manufactured by GTECH, doubled the credits for the money inserted, costing an erroneous pay out of $450,115. The machine, installed two months ago at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., doubled the credits to $100 for each $50 bill inserted.

The official tally showed that voters approved table games at Tri-State Racetrack and Gaming Center by 343 votes.

Scientific Games Corp. (SGMS) has been awarded the pari-mutuel equipment contract by the California Horse Racing Industry.