Texas Billionaire Fertitta Mulls IPO of Casino, Dining Empire

Tuesday 1st December 2020

Texas billionaire Tilman Fertitta is weighing taking a substantial part of his casino and restaurant empire public, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The discussions, prompted by the recent rally in equity markets, are preliminary and Fertitta hasn't made a final decision, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential.

An initial public offering could include a substantial number of the casinos and restaurants that are under the Golden Nugget and Landry's umbrellas, giving the company a valuation of several billion dollars, one of the people said. Fertitta would retain control through a stake of well over 50%, the same person said.

The sale would exclude other assets Fertitta owns through his main holding company -- Fertitta Entertainment -- such as the National Basketball Association's Houston Rockets, the people said.

A representative for Golden Nugget declined to comment.

Fertitta, who has relied on debt to fuel the growth of his companies, found himself struggling to keep his empire afloat this year amid the onset of the pandemic and a plunge in oil prices.

He furloughed tens of thousands of employees to cut costs and borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars at double-digit rates to navigate the pandemic. Listing a stake in the business could allow the billionaire to take advantage of strong investor appetite for new offerings to pay down debt.

In June, Fertitta disclosed plans to bring Golden Nugget's online gaming unit public through a merger with a blank-check company it created last year with Jefferies Financial Group Inc. The deal, which valued the business at $745 million, is awaiting shareholder approval.

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