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Gaming Guru

Rod Smith
 

Inside Gaming Column: Sands Execs Revved Up For IPO: The Tour

29 November 2004

Wall Street analysts say the gurus at Las Vegas Sands, owner of The Venetian, start the road show Monday for their $524 million initial public stock offering. Sands President Bill Weidner and Senior Vice President Brad Stone plan to hawk shares at about $22 each to investors in New York, Boston, Chicago and Dallas. It is unclear whether the company's $89.5 million third-quarter loss will have any effect on the sale. The sale of the 24 million shares should wrap up in mid-December, just in time to light up Christmas for Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson.

***

With the holidays approaching fast, Wall Street analysts said room rates are holding firm and heading up. The average rate for rooms on the Strip just before Christmas is up more than 6 percent ($102) over last year. The increase marks the 13th week out of the past 17 weeks that rates have increased. The only property sold out so far is The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. Caesars Entertainment hotels led the field with room rates up 17 percent at Caesars Palace, 26 percent at Paris Las Vegas and 35 percent at Bally's.

***

Holiday room-rate performance on the Strip is all the more impressive because of the light convention calendar heading into Christmas week. There are only two major conventions scheduled for the week before Christmas: the National Ground Water Association with 6,000 attendees at the Sands Expo and Convention Center and the American Cheer and Dance association with 5,000 attendees at MGM Grand.

***

Banking sources said a yet-to-be-identified gaming company is throwing stones at the $7.9 billion MGM Mirage buyout of Mandalay Resort Group. Lawyers for the company are said to have met with Federal Trade Commission staff to present problems revolving around the concentrated control of rooms on the Strip that MGM Mirage would have, and how much that would increase with its 8,000-room CityCenter project. Commission staff members could not comment and MGM Mirage has not been notified of any such meetings, which could be a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

***

Word on Wall Street is that gaming analyst Joe Greff has joined Bear, Stearns & Co. as head of the investment bank's gaming industry division. Greff previously headed the casino division at Fulcrum Global Partners. At Bear, Stearns, he succeeded Mark Abramson, whose tenure lasted only two years. Abramson in 2002 replaced Jason Ader, who is now working as a private investment banker. Greff is expected to relaunch Bear, Stearns' coverage of the gaming industry, which ended when Ader left.

The Inside Gaming column is compiled by Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith. You can contact him by phone at (702) 477-3893, fax (702) 387-5243 or e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal.com.

Inside Gaming Column: Sands Execs Revved Up For IPO: The Tour is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.