cahn’s American Real Estate Partners LP will see a gain of us$ 1 billion from the sale of the properties he began buying just eight years ago, the Mount Kisco, New York-based company said in a statement.
Icahn is selling after a year in which the Strip had record revenue of us$ 6.69 billion, an increase of 11 percent from 2005, and as casino operators like Wynn Resorts, MGM Mirage and Boyd Gaming are spending a combined us$ 12.7 billion to build new gambling resorts on the Strip.
“Your big next wave of development is occurring at the northern end of the Strip, which will only help and benefit the Stratosphere in the future,’’ said Michael Parks, senior associate in the global gaming group in Las Vegas for broker CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. “We are still seeing an increased demand for properties in Las Vegas.’’
Shares of American Real Estate rose 20 cents to us$ 107.95 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has more than doubled this year.
Projects opening in the coming years on the Strip include Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s us$ 1.7 billion Encore in 2008, MGM Mirage’s us$ 7 billion Project City Center in 2009 and Boyd Gaming Corp.’s us$ 4 billion Echelon Place in 2010.
This year, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. will open the us$ 1.8 billion Palazzo casino, a companion to its Venetian Resort Hotel casino. “Goldman is making a decent long-term investment in where the Strip is heading,’’ said Robert LaFleur, a gaming analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group in Stamford, Connecticut. “The Stratosphere and the land could be more valuable imploded and built up with something else.’’
Stock of Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage, which owns casinos in Nevada, Mississippi and Michigan, has jumped 62 percent in the last year. Shares of Las Vegas-based slot machine manufacturer Bally Technologies Inc. have increased 40 percent in the last year.
Icahn’s American Real Estate, a holding company with a market value of us$ 6.7 billion, began investing in the casino business in 1998 with the purchase of the Stratosphere. It bought the other Las Vegas casinos in 2004 and the Laughlin property in 2006.
The Stratosphere mainly attracts visitors to Las Vegas, while the other casinos in the city cater to Las Vegas residents, the company said. The four casinos have 4,912 hotel rooms, 4,887 slot machines, 122 table games and 21,925 sqm of casino space. The 17 acres of land being purchased by Whitehall surrounds the Stratosphere, American Real Estate said.
“Our gaming investments are a successful example of our strategy of acquiring undervalued and out-of-favor assets, and improving operations and enhancing value,’’ Icahn said in the statement.
Whitehall has made us$ 16 billion of real estate investments in 27 countries, according to the statement. Goldman is the largest investor in Whitehall real estate funds. In May 2006, Whitehall bought 130 U.S. hotels with brand names including Marriott and Hilton for us$ 1.2 billion. It has also invested in Germany by buying a controlling stake in Deutsche Real Estate AG in September 2006.