MGM Resorts Cashes In on Its Way Out of New Jersey

Cash is coming at just the right time for MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM  ) . With Las Vegas struggling to recover from the recession, the shining star of Atlantic City, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, is paying a big dividend to its owners. MGM is getting $73 million from Vornado Realty Trust (NYSE: VNO  ) and Geyser Holdings for a portion of the land that Borgata is built on. And there may be more to come.

A new financing deal at Borgata pays MGM and Boyd Gaming (NYSE: BYD  ) , joint-venture owners of Borgata, $215 million in dividends as part of a $950 million financing package. As MGM tries to divest from New Jersey under pressure from regulators over its controversial partnership with Macau tycoon Pansy Ho, last week's payoff is a big step in the right direction.

The next step is selling MGM's half of the property, which might be a little trickier. MGM's sale of its half of Borgata comes with a first right of refusal from Boyd, giving it leverage in sale negotiations. Then there's also the condition that other gaming companies are in. Harrah's is struggling with a huge debt load. Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS  ) is investing in Pennsylvania instead of New Jersey. Wynn Resorts (Nasdaq: WYNN  ) has said it isn't interested in New Jersey. Trump Casinos and Stations Casinos are both emerging from bankruptcy. So finding a buyer might be a bit of a challenge.

Nevertheless, investors should be happy about the cash infusion for MGM. My biggest concern is the $13 billion in debt hanging over the company. If the Borgata sale goes through and a Macau IPO happens later this year, MGM may not be in such a bad financial position after all.

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Foolish contributor Travis Hoium is long Las Vegas Sands. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2010, at 2:01 PM, MutualFundMonday wrote:

    "If the Borgata sale goes through and a Macau IPO happens later this year, MGM may not be in such a bad financial position after all."

    What is that a projected $1.5B, best case? That's hardly enough to meet their crippling debt obligations with the meager operational cash flow coming in right now. I foresee another asset sale before things get better for them.

  • Report this Comment On August 10, 2010, at 7:06 PM, MainStreetMayor wrote:

    Could be true although not a lot of buyers exist in Las Vegas right now, unless PE comes in. $1.5 billion would more than cover the $1.0 billion in debt coming due by the end of 2011. I'm not saying they're free and clear but that should hold them over until a recovery comes. If Las Vegas is still as bad in 2012 as it is today we're all in trouble.

    Travis Hoium

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