Caesars Entertainment restarts IPO plans

AP News

11/15/2011 1:23:02 PM - AP News

Caesars Entertainment Corp., one of the world's biggest casino companies, is restarting its plans to go public a year after it canceled its initial public offering.

The announcement comes as the IPO market is beginning to heat up again. While the stock market's volatility in recent months dampened IPO buzz, the November launch of daily deals pioneer Groupon may have whet investors' appetites for IPOs once again.

This week alone there are nine IPOs expected to go to market, according to Renaissance Capital. It would be the busiest week since December 2010 if all of them price successfully.

While Caesars is potentially looking to get back into the IPO mix, its expectations are more muted than a year ago. The Las Vegas company said Tuesday that it seeks to raise up to $50 million. Last November, it had hoped to raise as much as $532 million before it pulled its IPO, citing market conditions.

The $50 million figure is subject to change as the managers of the IPO gauge investor interest.

Caesars owns or operates 52 casinos in the U.S. and overseas as of Sept. 30. Its brands include Harrah's, Caesars and Horseshoe.

Apollo Management Group, led by buyout titan Leon Black, and Texas Pacific Group paid $17.1 billion and took on $12.4 billion in debt in 2007 to take Caesars, then known as Harrah's, private. It was one of the biggest leveraged buyouts ever. At the time, private money was on a shopping spree for casino operators, considered hot targets for their cash-generating ability and real estate holdings. Then the financial crisis hit, taking with it many of the dollars that kept slot machines spinning and blackjack tables full.

Caesars changed its name from Harrah's Entertainment Inc. in November 2010 after canceling its IPO.

The gambling company's latest attempt to go public comes as the casino industry is still looking to regain its footing. Strength in Macau has helped companies with Asian operations, as U.S. gambling markets in Las Vegas and Atlantic City slowly improve.

Most of Caesars' casinos are in the U.S. and the U.K., although the company says it is trying to expand into Asia.

Caesars did not say in the regulatory filing Tuesday how many shares it plans to sell, for how much, or when. It said it plans to list on the Nasdaq exchange under the "CZR" ticker symbol.

The IPO has been viewed in part as a way for Caesars to alleviate its debt load. The company had total long-term debt of $19.62 billion as of Sept. 30, according to the filing.

For the nine months ended Sept. 30, Caesars reported a loss of $467 million on revenue of $6.66 billion.