Firms show interest in buying Tropicana - Friday 21st of March 2008

The Tropicana Hotel Casinos state-appointed conservator said Tuesday that he and his financial advisers received "multiple expressions of interest" from would-be buyers.

"We are very pleased with the level of interest that has been expressed by potential buyers, notwithstanding the uncertainties in the financial markets," said former state Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein.

The lending crunch may have scared off some potential investors. The questionable economy may force Pinnacle Entertainment to alter its plans to develop the former Sands, or scrap the deal all together, if credit doesnt loosen up.

"Clearly the choppy credit markets will have an impact on the bidding process," said Cape May developer, Curtis Bashaw, who dropped plans to pursue the Tropicana as a result.

Stein had sent a confidential offering memorandum to more than two dozen interested parties and had asked them to respond by Monday if they were interested in bidding for the property.

Although Stein would not comment on specific proposals, bids were submitted by Colony Capital, which owns Resorts and Hilton, and New York real estate developer Joseph Palladino. Gomes+Cordish, a partnership between former gaming executive Dennis Gomes and the Cordish Co., was expected to make a bid. Gomes was unavailable for comment.

The financial and legal teams working with Stein will review the submissions and arrange for site tours and meetings with management.

"I am encouraged with the progress of the sale process so far and we are now moving into the second stage of the process," he said. "There is, of course, much more work to be done before there can be a definitive transaction."

The sale is expected to close by the end of June.

Stein was appointed to oversee the casino in December, after the New Jersey Casino Control Commission refused to renew its license.

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