Pinnacle Acquires Aztar - Tuesday 14th of March 2006
LAS VEGAS – Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: PNK) and Aztar Corporation (NYSE: AZR) announced today that the Boards of Directors of both companies have unanimously approved, and the companies have entered into, a definitive merger agreement under which Pinnacle will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Aztar for $38.00 per share in cash. This represents a premium of approximately 24% over Aztar's closing stock price on March 10, 2006. The fully financed transaction is valued at approximately $2.1 billion, including approximately $1.45 billion of equity on a fully-diluted basis and approximately $723 million in indebtedness.
Together, Pinnacle and Aztar will have assets in most of the largest gaming markets in the U.S., with a strong presence in Nevada, New Jersey, Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana. Including current development projects, the combined company will have an expansive footprint with 12 major gaming properties in the U.S., and more than 8,800 hotel rooms and approximately 22,000 slot machines system-wide.
"Combining Pinnacle and Aztar makes tremendous sense," said Daniel R. Lee, Pinnacle's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "This transaction will enable Pinnacle to further broaden and diversify its geographic presence and cash flows, as well as generate cross-marketing synergies. We intend to create a nationwide casino network, not unlike that of some of our larger competitors. We believe that we will be able to leverage the combined company's extensive network to increase customer loyalty across the system and attract additional customers to the company's destination resort/hotel properties in Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
"Additionally, this combination will allow us to capitalize on the strength of Pinnacle's management team and our track record of developing large, successful projects," Mr. Lee continued. "Most notably, our combined financial strength and depth of management will allow us to develop Aztar's entire Tropicana Las Vegas site into a highly competitive, high-visibility Strip resort that can compete successfully with the newest projects currently underway. Pinnacle has a proven history of generating value for its shareholders, and we believe that this transaction positions the company to continue delivering strong results."
Robert M. Haddock, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aztar, said, "Everyone benefits from this transaction. We believe this transaction delivers a value premium to our shareholders and creates increased opportunities for growth and development for our employees, who will benefit from being part of a larger, stronger, more diversified gaming company. We are committed to completing the transaction as expeditiously as possible and ensuring a seamless transition."
The combined companies will have strong growth prospects. They include: 2006:
* Opening of Pinnacle's casino adjoining the Four Seasons Hotel on the island of Exuma in the Bahamas.
* Opening of Aztar's new hotel at its Evansville property. 2007:
* Opening of Pinnacle's property in downtown St. Louis, pending receipt of regulatory approvals.
* Significant expansions at Belterra, Pinnacle's property in Indiana, and L'Auberge du Lac, its resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
* New hotels at Pinnacle's Boomtown New Orleans casino. 2008:
* Opening of Pinnacle's proposed project in St. Louis County, in the community of Lemay, pending receipt of regulatory approvals.
* Potential reconstruction of a new casino-hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi, where Pinnacle owns a prime casino site. This site was previously occupied by the Casino Magic Biloxi casino-hotel, which was largely destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Pinnacle is considering whether to rebuild on the site.
* Potential development of two casinos in Chile, where Pinnacle has applications pending. Pinnacle already operates several small but successful casinos in Argentina.
* Potential development of casinos in Pennsylvania, where Pinnacle and Aztar each have an application pending. Pinnacle's proposal is in the Fishtown neighborhood, near downtown Philadelphia, where it has an option to purchase land. Aztar owns land and has proposed developing a casino in Allentown, approximately 90 miles from Manhattan. In both cases, Pinnacle and Aztar are competing with others for one of a limited number of licenses. Pennsylvania gaming law allows companies to own one casino and to have an investment and management contract on a second facility. Pinnacle intends to seek a partner for one of the two proposals and to continue to pursue both opportunities for potential licensure and development.
* Significantly, the potential redevelopment of the Las Vegas Tropicana property. Pinnacle intends to design a major project that would utilize the entire 34-acre site. It is estimated that the design phase of this project will require at least two years. The existing Tropicana will continue to operate as it is until further notice.
The transaction is subject to approval by Aztar shareholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including the receipt of necessary regulatory and governmental approvals. The transaction is not subject to financing and is expected to close by the end of the year.
Pinnacle has received a financing commitment from Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. and Lehman Brothers Inc. to complete the transaction.
Lehman Brothers Inc. and Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. served as financial advisors to Pinnacle and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Irell & Manella LLP acted as legal advisors. Goldman Sachs served as financial advisor to Aztar and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP acted as legal advisor.
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