Caesars Entertainment Operating Group, which owns most of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, filed for bankruptcy today in Chicago.
This is going to be one complicated bankruptcy. Some of Caesars’ creditors sought to force the entity into bankruptcy in Delaware earlier in the week, and the Delaware judge has ordered a halt to the Chicago bankruptcy proceedings.
One of the main players at Caesars is TPG Capital Management, the private equity firm founded by Dave Bonderman back in 1993 to acquire Continental Airlines. They invested in Midwest Airlines, ultimately selling out to Republic. They also partnered on an acquisition of Sabre. They acquired the entity with a second private equity firm just before the recession for $30 billion — of which about 80% was high interest debt.
Especially controversial is that the entity with this debt transferred out two profitable properties and its online business into a separate entity. In other words, they took the good stuff ‘in exchange for fair value’ and left the unprofitable assets to cover the debts.
Caesars intends to exit bankruptcy by selling off land and buildings to a new real estate investment trust. They’ll use the proceeds from the sale to pay down debts, and continue to run the casino operations and make lease payments to the trust.
The casino operation, though, may not be positioned to make the lease and interest payments going forward — at least without major cost cutting.
Big changes will certainly be afoot at Caesars Entertainment.