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Steve Wynn's Interest in the Desert Inn is Confirmed

19 April 2000

by David Strow

Steve Wynn is examining the Desert Inn hotel-casino for possible acquisition, officials at the hotel-casino and its parent company said Tuesday.

Wynn toured the Desert Inn property on Saturday, said Mark Lafever, chief operating officer of the hotel-casino. And this morning, a Starwood spokesman confirmed that Wynn wasn't there for leisure.

"I can confirm that he is indeed interested (in the Desert Inn)," said Dan Gibson, spokesman for owner Starwood Hotels Resorts Worldwide Inc., owner of the Desert Inn. "Anything beyond that, you'd have to get from Mr. Wynn's office."

Alan Feldman, spokesman for Mirage Resorts, said he was unaware of Wynn's interest in the property. "At the moment, he's running Mirage Resorts, and whatever may happen in the future will happen in the future," Feldman said.

Rumors that Wynn might acquire the north Strip luxury property have been circulating since it was announced that Wynn will step down as chairman and chief executive of Mirage Resorts Inc. after it is acquired by MGM Grand Inc. for $6.7 billion.

Wynn's stake in Mirage stock will gross him more than $500 million before taxes after the MGM Grand takeover. While not yet revealing what he will do, Wynn has indicated he is interested in competing as a Strip resort operator.

As a small resort, the Desert Inn would offer Wynn the ability to offer a luxury boutique hotel, and would have the draw of the nearby golf course.

In addition, 32 acres of land are available next to the Desert Inn, which would give a buyer the opportunity to build something entirely new on the property.

"He's one of many (to tour the property)," Lafever said. "I've given over 100 tours."

Until recently, the Desert Inn appeared to be going to Sun International Ltd., run by South African billionaire Sol Kerzner. But Sun yanked its $275 million offer for the Desert Inn earlier this year, a move most believed was related to Sun's need for capital as company officials attempted to take the company private.

Since then, only one other bidder has formally emerged -- Boccardi Capital Systems Inc. of Las Vegas, which offered $200 million for the Desert Inn.

That offer was promptly rejected by Starwood, but owner Fabrizio Boccardi is continuing his pursuit. In a strange move last week, Boccardi released a press statement saying that Prince Albert of Monaco had given his support to Boccardi's efforts during a recent trip to Las Vegas.

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