he deal marks the activist investor's return to the nation's second-largest gambling market and ends one of the most tortured casino sales in US history.
New Jersey casino regulators stripped the Tropicana's former owners of their casino license in December 2007. They cited less than a year of poor performance including layoffs that left the gambling hall dirty and understaffed. Icahn bought the casino out of bankruptcy for us$ 200 million. That was 80 % less than what it was expected to fetch before the recession hit.
In a prepared statement, Icahn acknowledged the challenges facing Atlantic City from slot machines -and soon, table games- in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York. "There will undoubtedly be tough sledding ahead for Atlantic City, especially in light of the increasing competition from neighboring states," Icahn said. "However, I believe that Atlantic City, with its beautiful beaches, can again become a premier destination resort."
For that to happen, casinos must invest not only in their own resorts but also in events to draw gamblers from competing states, he said. Last year, the Tropicana, which opened in 1981, took in us$ 356.7 million, ranking it seventh among Atlantic City's 11 casinos.
New Jersey casino regulators stripped the Tropicana's former owners of their casino license in December 2007, citing less than a year of poor performance including nearly 1,000 layoffs that left the gambling hall dirty and understaffed.
That led to nearly two years of false starts and dead-ends in the effort to attract a buyer. When a deal to sell the Tropicana to Baltimore-based Cordish Company fell through, the former owner of the Sands Casino Hotel stepped in as part of a drive to scoop up distressed casino properties at cut-rate prices.
In January, Icahn received regulatory approval to take control of nine Tropicana Entertainment LLC casinos in Nevada, Indiana, Louisiana and Mississippi as they emerged from a separate bankruptcy. He also bought the unfinished Fontainebleau Las Vegas casino resort on the strip earlier this year.
And last December, Icahn bought the first-lien debt in Trump Entertainment Resorts' three Atlantic City casinos. Now, he and banker Andy Beal are battling a group that includes Donald Trump to become the owners when that company emerges from bankruptcy.