Captain Kirk cashes in A few million shares!

Nov 6, 2001 7:53 AM

WALKING AROUND MONEY? Kirk Kerkorian has sold 10 million common shares of his giant casino operation for $210 million.

The billionaire financier sold the shares of MGM MIRAGE (MGG) at $21 apiece late last week.

Not to worry. Kirk still holds 81.2 million shares. His stake in the company is now 51.6%, down from 57.3%.

And, besides all of the above, Kirk has a major tax liability as a result of his profitable recent sale of DaimlerChrysler stock.

OOPS! A day after Trump Atlantic City Associates failed to pay a scheduled interest payment on about $1.3 billion of senior  secured debt, Standard and Poor cut its debt rating to a default grade, or “D,” from “CC.”

Trump now has a 30-day grace period before secured bondholders can accelerate payments of the bond principle.

Oddly, the company reported a rise in third quarter earnings, but said it expects revenues to slump because of the New York State’s plan to allow six new casinos.

ON THE PROWL! Peter George, the former Hilton Group chief executive, is wearing Park Place Entertainment (PPE) pinstripes.

What does that mean?

According to Tom Gallagher, Park Place’s chief executive, George’s appointment would be “especially helpful to us in looking at opportunities, particularly as the UK government considers the Budd Report, which has recommended the introduction of the country’s first large-scale gaming enterprises.”

The buzz in some circles is that Park Place may be interested in bidding for London Club International, which has looked vulnerable to a bid since it became embroiled in the struggling Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Park Place owns a third of the Aladdin’s bonds and has been tipped as a possible rescuer for the troubled resort.

OUCH! An in-the-knowster with both eyes on casino cash flow, insists that an early review of the numbers turned in by MGM MIRAGE (MGG) properties shows that Golden Nugget Laughlin EBITDA is down 91% over the same quarter last year.

“Overall,” he said, “MGG cash flow for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, was down a notch under 30%. Its Laughlin property led the way in down numbers, followed by Golden Nugget Las Vegas, down 46.8%.”

TIME WILL TELL! Are casino crowds ready for high art? We’re going to find out. New York’s Solomon R. Guggenhein Foundation has opened not one, but two branch museums inside The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The Guggenhein Heritage and the Guggenhein Las Vegas operate at the Strip property.

Bellagio was the first to establish a gallery with bona fide museum-worthy art works. However, Bellagio recently announced the indefinite postponement of a planned Alexander Calder exhibit. Its gallery is now closed until January.

The Guggenhein Heritage includes some truly outstanding paintings. It is located just off The Venetian’s hotel registration lobby. It is one long, rectangular space ”” about 6,000 square feet ”” broken into four galleries by walls that can pivot around the columns they enclose.

KEEPING A STIFF UPPER LIP!  A proposed $1.5 billion casino project for MGM Atlantic City has been given the go-slow nod. MGM MIRAGE (MGG) executives told Wall Street analysts last week that it has “not made any final decisions on our Atlantic City plans as of this date. We have put the brakes on, but there is a yellow light, there is a caution signal out there and we have to look at what the next move might be.”

News that New York State is going forward with six casinos is a consideration that is causing a lot of developers to go for the brake.

IF IT’S TRUE that you can’t make money where there ain’t no money, casinos in the Catskills Mountains of New York may find it tough to go up against New Jersey’s clubs. New York Gov. George Pataki said the state has given its blessing for up to six casinos in the Empire State.

“It’s going to be tough going against Atlantic City, even though it’s a shorter distance to the Catskills in some cases,” said a pipe.

“Old habits die hard and casinos by-the-sea have become habit to most New Yorkers,” the pipe concluded.

HE’S BAAAAAAACK! In the early 90’s and up until last year, Aristocrat Leisure Ltd., the Australian company that has played a dominant role in the distribution of slot machines worldwide, couldn’t convince Nevada regulators that it was suitable for a license.

The big problem, regulators said, was some of the activities of the company’s founder Len Ainsworth. So, to remove the hindrance, Ainsworth stepped down.

Now, word from Down Under is that Ainsworth, known as the “Father of the Pokies,” is starting a new pokie (poker machine) business. The company is called Ainsworth Game Technology and it will be going public with an offer of 50 million shares being underwritten by Salomon Smith Barney at $1 a share. Ainsworth will retain 56.5% of the company.

Because of his previous success and the confidence he has developed within the investment community, market analysts expected the IPO (initial public offering) to be well received.

Said one analyst, “A lot of very good institutional names will be on the register.”

IT’S UP TO THE SENECA NATION! A temporary casino could be up and running in the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center as early as next fall. It all depends on whether or not tribal voters will approve a referendum giving the go ahead and that necessary government approvals can be obtained by year’s end.

“We realize every day that we’re not open that there’s a lot of money, but we can’t speed it up any quicker than we’re going,” said Richard Jemison, chairman of the tribe’s negotiating team for a casino compact.