The strange saga of Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) may be a long way from over after a recent ruling by the company's bankruptcy judge. Caesars Entertainment Operating Company retained the exclusive right to propose a plan of reorganization in its bankruptcy proceedings until March 15, 2016, which will likely put off the company's restructuring well into next year.
Junior creditors are still fighting to drag the entire company into bankruptcy, but it may take another legal win for that to happen. In the meantime, CEOC's assets are on the block for anyone to buy -- if the price is right.
Caesars is up for sale
In a move that may or may not be for show, Caesars Entertainment put the 38 casinos in CEOC up for sale to potential bidders. That includes Caesars Palace, although it doesn't include the resort's high roller, Octavius Tower, which is part of Caesars Entertainment Resort Properties, and a lot of regional gaming properties around the country.
The other important asset Caesars isn't putting on the market is the Total Rewards program, which is often seen as a big value driver for Caesars Entertainment. Most of the assets, however, are casinos in regional markets, which aren't all that profitable to begin with. In 2014, CEOC generated $816 million in EBITDA -- given recent enterprise value multiples of about 10x for gaming companies, that would mean a value of $8.2 billion at best in a sale.
That's not enough to satisfy lenders, who are owed about $18 billion and are looking to pull all of Caesars Entertainment and its $1.69 billion in EBITDA last year into bankruptcy.
Likely bidders won't want Caesars assets
The companies likely to bid for Caesars wouldn't want to, or be able to, pay anywhere near what Caesars Entertainment may want. Penn National (NASDAQ:PENN) and Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) are two of the largest regional gaming operators, but they have financial difficulties of their own with little in the way of net income in their own businesses and a shortage of cash for big acquisitions.
Penn National and Boyd Gaming also trade at enterprise value/EBITDA multiples of 9.6 and 11.1 respectively, so even if they used shares and debt to buy up assets they wouldn't likely be able to pay a premium above that.
Besides their ability to buy out Caesars Entertainment's assets, why would Penn or Boyd want to? They're trying to fix up their own operations in a highly competitive regional gaming market, and unless Caesars was unloading properties for a song they wouldn't want to buy them. And no one involved in the bankruptcy is going to let go of properties for a steal when there are other options ahead.
Few options left for Caesars Entertainment
Junior creditors are fighting in court to get a series of complex transactions that resulted in the creation of the bankrupt CEOC overturned. That could lead to having Caesars Entertainment itself dragged into bankruptcy, and I think that's likely where we're headed. But the court won't rule on the legality of those transactions until December at the earliest.
Until then, investors are left in limbo as debtors fight over CEOC and the rest of Caesars Entertainment in court. The company may have survived this long, but without a number of long-shot rulings falling in its favor I think it's just a matter of time before Caesars Entertainment is forced to restructure. No matter how you look at it, this is a stock that's odds are too long to deserve a bet for investors.