Two sponsors show interest in Fontainebleau investment - Tuesday 28th of July 2009

At least two parties have a serious interest in investing in the bankrupt, 70-percent complete Fontainebleau casino resort in Las Vegas, Fontainebleau has disclosed.

Fontainebleau revealed in court papers this week that two potential financial sponsors have been participating in court-ordered mediation of a lawsuit Fontainebleau filed against bank lenders in which it seeks a court order requiring them to release $656 million in funding needed for work on the $2.9 billion project.

The banks, led by Bank of America, said they halted funding for the project this spring after determining Fontainebleau was in default of its loan agreement because of cost overruns and other problems.

The lack of funding was followed by Fontainebleau halting construction on the project on the Las Vegas Strip and filing for bankruptcy protection last month in Miami.

"Two potential plan sponsors have been identified who have been active participants in the mediation. As all parties and the mediator have recognized, a transaction that enables completion of the project and the resolution of the revolver (bank) litigation are interdependent and, accordingly, each of the potential investors have participated alongside the parties in the mediation process in an effort to structure a global solution to these chapter 11 cases," Fontainebleau said in a Monday court filing.

The mediation continued Wednesday, Fontainebleau spokesman Dave Satterfield said.

He said the company is not identifying the "potential plan sponsors."

The company has previously disclosed that Miami developer Jeffrey Soffer, whose companies are developing Fontainebleau, may invest more funds in the project.

A source with knowledge of the case said investment company Apollo Management LP has bought some of the Fontainebleau debt and has shown an interest in the Fontainebleau reorganization. Apollo is one of the companies that controls Harrahs Entertainment Inc. of Las Vegas.

Fontainebleau and the banks have not yet disclosed the status of the mediation, which is now in its second round.

"The mediation process is ongoing and, while the initial mediation did not produce a settlement, the discussions were productive and the mediator has not declared an impasse. ... the debtors remain cautiously optimistic that a resolution to these cases can be achieved," Fontainebleau said in its Monday filing.

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