Station Casinos gets $4.7-billion offer to take company private

From the Associated Press

Private equity bidders extended their shopping spree for casino companies Monday as Station Casinos Inc. said it received a $4.7-billion buyout offer from its founding family and an affiliate of Colony Capital.

The $82-a-share offer for the Las Vegas-based neighborhood casino operator, backed by Chief Executive Frank J. Fertitta III and President Lorenzo Fertitta, represented an 18.7% premium to Friday's closing price. Station shares shot above the mark Monday, rising $15.80, or 22.9%, to $84.90.

Analysts predicted that the offer might go higher and that interest by private equity groups in the gambling sector, rich in cash flows and real estate, would continue.

"All casino operators remain in play," CIBC World Markets Corp. analyst David Katz said in a research note. "With shares continuing to trade on private market speculation, we recommend to investors [to] continue to own the group."

The bid by the Fertittas and the Century City-based real estate investment giant run by Tom Barrack follows a $15-billion offer for industry leader Harrah's Entertainment Inc., announced Oct. 2, by private equity firms Texas Pacific Group and Apollo Management Group.

Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's investment firm, Tracinda Corp., also confirmed Monday that its previously announced intention to increase its stake in MGM Mirage Inc. to 61.1% from 55.9% with a tender offer of $825 million in cash.

A play for Station had been widely anticipated by investors, who have pushed the shares up 28% since late July despite weakness in the "locals" gambling market geared to Las Vegas-area residents, said analyst Matthew Jacob of Majestic Research.

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