Bidding war for Regent

Aug 14, 2001 6:24 AM

Maritz Wolff’s $80 million cash offer for the Regent Las Vegas hasn’t scared off the competition. It’s bringing bidders out of the woodwork.

“We’re going to see a whole lot more action now,’’ said Johann Finley, CEO of PDS Gaming. “There are people who are saying, ”˜We’re not going to let them steal this thing.’’’

PDS, partnering with Heller Financial, made an earlier play for the Summerlin resort. But the $120 million package, loaded with assumptions and contingencies, fell short. Instead, the federal bankruptcy court selected Maritz Wolff as the stalking horse bidder, which allows the Los Angeles-based hotel operator to match any higher bid next month.

It’s a sure bet some big names will be jumping into the bidding pool.

“You can run down the list of major hotel operators and they will be there,’’ Finley predicted. Among the names being mentioned early: Marriott, Fairmont and Wyndam. “Just fill in the blank,’’ he added.

Maritz Wolff’s $80 million offer has been called an unrealistically low-ball price for a 2-year-old property with $350 million in assets. And with the Regent recently generating positive cash flow after a string of losing quarters, industry analysts predict a bidding war.

Coast Casinos got things going by entering a last-minute $82 million bid. That was rejected, but Coast and longtime partner Tiberti Construction have indicated a desire to stay in the game.

Casino developers Ed Roski, Carl Icahn and even Steve Wynn have also been mentioned as interested parties. So have Station Casinos and Starwood Resorts. Regent owner Swiss Casinos is said to be very much in the hunt as well.

Unless the bidding substantially raises the Maritz Wolff price, the Regent’s creditors could be out in the cold. The 461-room resort, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, is $300 million in the red.

“$82 million is not a very good recovery rate. It’s a big risk for creditors, who include lessors, first mortgage holders, unsecured creditors and mechanics’ liens,’’ said one source.