emenidjian was named Chairman and CEO of the venture, Onex said in a statement today. The Toronto- based private-equity firm acquired about 58 percent of the property’s secured debt at a discount earlier this year, Michael Locke, a spokesman for the company, said today in a phone interview.
The Tropicana Las Vegas left bankruptcy yesterday with no debt, more than us$ 10 million of cash, and commitments from Onex and other unidentified equity holders to invest at least us$75 million to upgrade the property, according to the statement. The casino, which opened in 1957, was featured in the 1964 Elvis Presley film “Viva Las Vegas!,” as well as “Diamonds Are Forever,” the 1971 James Bond movie staring Sean Connery.
A renovation will begin this year and be completed in 2010, Onex said in the statement. It will include refurbishing the resort’s guestrooms, creating a new casino floor, and opening a new nightclub.
Yemenidjian invested “substantial” equity in Tropicana and is one of the biggest individual investors, Locke said. During the 1990s, Yemenidjian was president of MGM Mirage, now the biggest casino owner on the Las Vegas Strip, and was Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. chairman and CEO from April 1999 to April 2005.
Onex rose 52 cents to at 2:45 p.m. in Toronto Stock Exchange trading. The shares had advanced 10 % this year before today.
In December 2007, the New Jersey Casino Control Commission stripped parent Tropicana Entertainment LLC’s state gambling license, citing staff cuts and deteriorating operating standards at its Atlantic City casino.
Tropicana Entertainment filed for bankruptcy in May 2008. The Las Vegas casino hotel was taken over by one group of lenders, while other assets including the Atlantic City property and casinos in Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi, will be taken over by billionaire Carl Icahn and other investors who had bought the debt in a separate process approved by a court last month.