Icahn Closes Sale of 4 Nevada Casinos to Goldman Sachs Unit

The sale by Icahn Enterprises of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas and three other southern Nevada casinos to an affiliate of Goldman Sachs, first announced last April, has just closed. In the process, according to a prepared statement, Icahn Enterprises made a before-tax profit of $700 million on the sale price of $1.2 billion.  American Casino & Entertainment Properties, owner and operator of the four casinos, will now be under purchaser Whitehall Street Real Estate Fund, a Goldman Sachs affiliate. Neither Icahn Enterprises, formerly known as American Real Estate Partners, nor Goldman Sachs would comment on the announcement.  The casinos are the 1,149-foot Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas; two off-Strip casinos, Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and Arizona Charlie’s Boulder, which cater primarily to Las Vegas–area residents; and the Aquarius Casino Resort in Laughlin. Goldman reportedly has no specific plans yet for a developable 17-acre parcel adjacent to the Stratosphere that was part of the deal.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in January that American Casino & Entertainment Properties CEO & president Richard Brown, who has been running the company for eight years under Icahn, will stay on. State gaming regulators were told, also according to the Review-Journal, that $54 million will be put into capital improvements at three of the casinos.  More recently, KOLO-TV reported that Goldman Sachs managing director Jonathan Langer told the Nevada Gaming Commission he thought that some Las Vegas visitors were being priced out of hotels on the Strip, letting Goldman target middle-class visitors with the ACEP properties.  The deal is just the latest in a string of high-profile transactions and groundbreakings in Las Vegas. Just within the past 45 days, CPN has reported on the $700 million to $1 billion redevelopment of the Moulin Rouge Hotel & Casino and the acquisition of the Golden Spike Hotel & Casino, as well as the $17.1 billion buyout that took Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. private.  And in addition to MGM Mirage’s $7.4 billion CityCenter project, the Trump International Hotel & Tower Las Vegas, Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, The Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino, Fountainebleau Las Vegas and Echelon Las Vegas are all set to open in the next three years.