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Howard Stutz

Pinnacle Entertainment lands $3 billion in financing for buyout

14 June 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. secured almost $3 billion in financing needed to complete its $2.8 buyout of rival regional gaming operator Ameristar Casinos, Inc.

In a filing late Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Las Vegas-based Pinnacle said more than a dozen investment banks and institutions have committed the financing for the buyout, which would double the company’s size.

Pinnacle said the financing is expected to include a $1.94 billion term loan and a revolving credit amendment of $925 million. Pinnacle can also seek a senior unsecured bridge loan of as much as $315 million if it is unable to sell senior unsecured notes of the same amount before completion of the Ameristar acquisition.

The Ameristar buyout has been blocked by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over antitrust issues surrounding two markets, St. Louis and Lake Charles, La.

Pinnacle may have to sell one of three casinos the company would own in St. Louis, and part with or scale back a $580 million hotel-casino project in Lake Charles.

In May, the FTC filed a 17-page administrative complaint blocking the buyout, which has been approved by Ameristar shareholders and Nevada gaming regulators.

Bloomberg News reported that Pinnacle officials are in talks with the FTC for settle the complaint so the transaction could be completed by late summer.

Pinnacle announced in December it would pay $26.50 for each share of Ameristar and assume $1.9 billion of debt. The company would grow to 17 gaming properties plus the Lake Charles project.

Pinnacle owns casinos in Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana and racetracks in Ohio and Texas. Ameristar has eight properties in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and two, Cactus Pete’s and the Horseshu in Jackpot on the Idaho state line.

The concern is St. Louis. The FTC said Pinnacle would control 58.4 percent of that market, which includes two casinos on the Illinois side of the Mississippi.