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Howard Stutz

Ameristar Casinos finalize major stock buy

29 March 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Ameristar Casinos finalized the $457.6 million stock purchase from the estate of the regional casino operator's late founder.

In a filing Monday with Securities and Exchange Commission, Las Vegas-based Ameristar said it purchased almost 26.2 million shares of the company's stock from the estate of Craig H. Neilsen for a price of $17.50 a share.

The stock transaction represents approximately 45 percent of the Ameristar's outstanding shares and 83 percent of the estate's current holdings in the company. When the transaction closes, following gaming and other regulatory approvals, Neilsen's estate will own 17 percent of Ameristar's common stock.

Ameristar said the company plans to obtain approximately $2.1 billion in new debt financing, the proceeds of which will be used to retire its approximately $1.5 billion of existing indebtedness, to fund the share repurchase and for general working capital purposes.

Neilsen, who founded Ameristar, died in 2006.

The company said the deal would leave public shareholders in greater control of the casino company, which operates eight casinos in seven markets.

The Neilsen Foundation supports spinal cord injury research and treatment.

When the deal closes, Ameristar will no longer qualify as a controlled company under Nasdaq listing rules.