Sosnoff May Add Partners in Bid to Acquire Caesars World

Times Staff Writer

New York money manager Martin T. Sosnoff disclosed Monday that he has been exploring for possible partners in his bid for Los Angeles-based casino operator Caesars World.

Sosnoff said he has had "preliminary" talks with Dallas-based casino operator Pratt Hotel Corp. and a Pratt ally, Southmark Corp., about a possible joint venture to acquire Caesars, which owns three major hotel-casinos. They are Caesars Palace, Caesars Tahoe in Nevada and Caesars Atlantic City in New Jersey.

But the New Yorker said discussions with Pratt and Southmark "are not currently being actively pursued and may or may not be continued in the future."

Pratt owns and operates the Sands hotel-casino in Atlantic City and others in the Caribbean.

Southmark, a Dallas real estate concern, has owned 37% of closely held Pratt since 1985 but does not control it. Southmark last year bought Carlsberg Corp., a Santa Monica real estate firm.

Caesars did not comment on the latest disclosure by Sosnoff.

In rejecting Sosnoff's $28-a-share tender offer on March 13, Caesars said it would explore "alternative transactions" with its advisers.

Caesars World also urged its public shareholders not to tender any shares to Sosnoff.

In his release Monday, Sosnoff said that only a "negligible" number of shares have been tendered so far.

Acting through MTS Acquisition Corp., Sosnoff also announced Monday an extension in the offer to May 15 from April 3.

He indicated that, based on discussions with casino regulators in Nevada and New Jersey since his tender offer began, he could not be sure that the required regulatory reviews would be completed by April 3. He said he intends to further extend his offer if the approval process is delayed.

In his offer, Sosnoff had expressed confidence that he could get regulatory approvals, since he previously was approved by both states as a major shareholder in Caesars World.

Sosnoff's announcement Monday said that he and the Pratt-Southmark group entered a confidentiality agreement providing that they "may jointly discuss" with Caesars' representatives a "friendly" transaction. But he said several preliminary contacts with Caesars' representatives have not brought "any indication that it wishes to enter into such negotiations."

Pratt and Southmark have separate interests in Las Vegas. Southmark, which is the landlord of Silver City, a small casino in a shopping center it owns there, told Nevada regulators last November that despite its 37% interest it is not an active partner in the Pratt firm.

Three members of the Pratt family own 52% of Pratt Hotel, which last fall unsuccessfully tried to buy control of Resorts International, a big New Jersey casino owner. New York developer Donald J. Trump bought control of Resorts earlier this month.

Pratt Hotel owned the Sands hotel-casino in Las Vegas for a time in the early 1980s but sold it back to Summa Corp. after encountering several reverses there.

Southmark was a minority shareholder in the Dunes hotel-casino in Las Vegas in early 1986 but dropped out as a prospective buyer of the troubled resort shortly thereafter.

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