Paul-Son taps the French connection

April 16, 2002 9:02 AM
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MERGER & MOTHBALLS! Paul-Son Gaming (PSON), one of the largest suppliers of table game equipment, and a French gaming equipment supplier (Establissenments Bourgogne et Grasset) and its Las Vegas subsidiary ”” Bud Jones Co. ”” have united.

Although the value of the deal was not disclosed, the result will find the French company and Bud Jones subsidiaries of Las Vegas-based Paul-Son. However it will be Bourgogne shareholders and executives ”” not the Endy family of Las Vegas ”” who controls the merged company.

Paul-Son saw better days when its founder, Paul S. Endy, Jr., was alive and well. Despite its leading position among table game suppliers, Paul-Son has struggled with quarterly losses over the past two years. And, the last nine months, ended Feb. 28, saw Paul-Son lose $1.71 million, compared to a loss of $984,000 for the same period last year. Revenues during the same period have fallen off 23% to $11.9 million.

Eric Endy, son of the founder, has been operating the company since 1998. “Obviously disappointed” with the drop in business, he blamed Sept. 11 and a lack of new casino openings and expansions.

Meanwhile Bourgogne posted revenues of $23.4 million for 2001.

PSON closed Monday at $1.80, up 11 cents, with heavy volume of 10,800 shares. The stock’s volume average is 2,480 shares.

THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: “When Mickey Brown took the microphone at last week’s gaming conference in New York State, you could see people’s ears perk up,” reported out northeast pipe.

Of interest, he explained, was the impact the development of casinos would have on existing properties in Connecticut and Atlantic City. Brown was instrumental in the development of Foxwoods Resort for the Mashantucket Pequot Indians.

”The Catskills would have an equal impact on Atlantic City and Connecticut,” Brown told the gathering. “When Mohegan Sun opened, Foxwoods had a short-time loss. Everybody wanted to see the new facility. Then the market grew.”

Brown pointed out that the Connecticut casinos generate about $2 billion a year in revenue while Atlantic City is a $4 billion market.

“In this business, generally you always have to be expanding and building. When I was involved with Foxwoods, we always built, built, built. That was a smart thing to do and Mohegan Sun is doing it now.”

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN: A few years ago, Wall Street tycoon Ron Perelman was guided through the Nevada licensing process by  top gaming attorney Frank Schreck, not because an acquisition was imminent, “but just in case an opportunity arises.”

Fast forward to the present and last week’s meeting of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission during which Perelman was deemed worthy of holding a New Jersey casino license.

His representative at the meeting was quoted as saying that the chairman of Revlon didn’t have any specific acquisition in mind but just in case something attractive came up his boss wanted to be prepared to take advantage of the situation.

Actually, this was Perelman’s second licensing approval in New Jersey. The first was in 1995.

A VISIONARY FOR VISION: The former companyknown as Leisure Time Technology has changed its name to Vision Gaming Technology. The Atlanta-based firm produces the popular Pot O Gold slot machine, which is available in several venues. The man behind the company is former Aristocrat exec Andre Hilliou. Vision plans to tap the California casino market: it recently signed a deal with K.P. Gaming, the leading Native American distributor of casino gaming products in California. Hilliou said: “We are very happy that such a quality company has decided to join ranks with us to increase the market share of our already successful Pot O Gold video games.”

SHORT SHORTS! In February casinos in Nevada posted their first positive month since 9/11. It followed a nearly 15% winning slump in January. That was the worst month for the clubs in nearly 20 years. But, don’t get too excited. February was a deceiving month. Both Super Bowl and Chinese New Year happened to fall there this year. Both are usually in January. When the win for the two months is combined and compared to last year, the casinos are still down . . . Ron Perelman and Carl Icahn lost their battle for Marvel Entertainment Group (MEG). But, Perelman had a junk bond deal going with comic book publisher that made him $280 million, while company raider Icahn ended up more than $70 million in the red. A legal battle is a cinch to follow as Marvel’s most popular character, “Spiderman,” is being made into a major movie and is expected to go through the roof with sales . . . U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs says that Indian tribes in 29 states have generated $10.6 billion from 321 casinos with 250,000 jobs created. And, 75% of the workers are non-Indian . . . Lyle Berman is hit with a bad case of silence. The enterprising casino owner has suddenly stopped talking about his plans to build a casino on the Strip at Harmon Road. I hear he’s looking for a partner.