Archive for January 21st, 2010

Icahn Scores Big in Las Vegas – Again

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

When people talk about the biggest players in the Las Vegas real estate game on the Strip, you inevitably hear names like Steve Wynn and Kirk Kerkorian. Here’s a name you hardly ever hear about unless you read the financial press at a sophisticated level … Carl Icahn.

Let’s start with a little recent Vegas history about this self-made billionaire. Icahn used to own the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino at the north end of the Strip and bundled it together with the Arizona Charlie’s properties (which he also owned) that cater to locals from various locations around the valley. A few short years ago (at the height of the market) Icahn sold the whole gaming package to a real estate hedge fund run by the geniuses at Goldman Sachs. Needless to say, the Goldman guys ended up getting killed while Icahn walked away with a massive return on his initial investment in the properties.

Fast forward to today … and who is back on the Strip as a major player once more? Read this from DealBook in today’s New York Times …

The billionaire investor Carl C. Icahn has made the winning bid to buy the bankrupt and unfinished Fontainebleau Las Vegas resort. According to court papers filed in Miami, the bankruptcy examiner in charge of running a court-supervised auction of the Fontainebleau said the only qualified bid received for the Fontainebleau was from Icahn Nevada Gaming Acquisition L.L.C., Reuters reports

What was the winning bid for a mostly finished 3,800 room 63-story Strip resort that already has about $2 billion sunk into it?

Would you believe $156 million ?!?

You could describe this price as “fire sale” but even that would be an understatement. The truth is, no one had the nerve and the cash to step forward in this economic environment to make a serious competing auction bid against Icahn for Fontainebleau Las Vegas. How did this guy get to be a billionaire over the course of his amazing career? The question hardly needs asking …