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Harrah's gets buyout offer of 15.05 billion



Published: Tue, October 3, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Proposed buyers offer a 22 percent premium for casino stock.

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Harrah's Entertainment received a 15.05 billion offer for the company from two private-equity firms in what would be the biggest deal ever for a casino operator and the fifth-largest leveraged buyout in history.

Harrah's said Monday that Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group are offering 81 per share in cash, a 22 percent premium to Harrah's closing stock price Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.

After the news, Harrah's shares surged 9.56, or 14.4 percent, to 75.99 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Harrah's said it had not committed to the deal, but it established a special committee of independent directors to review the offer and retained UBS Securities LLC as an adviser.

"The special committee has not determined that a transaction is in the best interest of Harrah's and its stockholders," Harrah's said in a statement. "There is no assurance that Harrah's will enter into this or any other transaction."

The company did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Vast operation

Harrah's operates about 40 casinos throughout the country, including Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, and other casinos under its name, Ballys, Horseshoe and Showboat. The Las Vegas-based company beefed up its portfolio with last year's purchase of Caesars Entertainment Inc., giving it an upscale offering on the Las Vegas Strip.

Analyst Rod Petrik of Stifel Nicolaus said Harrah's shares had been relatively cheaper than its peers in the casino business for several reasons, "perhaps none more important than its inability to crack into the growing Asian gaming markets."




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