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US – Crown snaps up Strip site of former New Frontier

By - 11 August 2014

James Packer is back for his third foray into the Las Vegas casino market following Crown Resorts’ purchase of a prime site on Las Vegas Boulevard for US$260m.

Crown Resorts and Andrew Pascal, former President and COO of Wynn Las Vegas, with financial support from Oaktree Capital Management have bought 34.6-acre site on land formerly taken up by the New Frontier casino, where it will develop its first project.

Andrew Pascal, Co‐Chairman, and CEO of the new company, said: “For over 25 years, I’ve studied the ever‐shifting Las Vegas landscape. I’ve always been inspired by this city’s capacity for reinvention. I’m excited to have my hand in crafting something new and fresh for the resurgent Las Vegas market.”
James Packer, Chairman of Crown Resorts Limited, and Co‐Chairman of the new company added: “You can’t be in the gaming industry and not have a special reverence for Las Vegas – that’s where it all began. As we have built Crown Resorts into a thriving international company with successful casino ventures in Australia, Macau, and London, we’ve always kept our eye on Las Vegas. And while we fell short in past attempts to enter that market, we now have the ideal opportunity ‐ with a great local partner in Andrew, a leading financial investor in Oaktree, and the perfect piece of property.”

Bruce Karsh, President of Oaktree, said: “We acquired our interest in the storied Frontier site because we believed it was the best piece of undeveloped land on the Las Vegas Strip. When Andrew approached us and shared his vision for the site and his partnership with Crown, we were eager to reinvest a portion of the proceeds from our debt investment and become an equity partner in their exciting new venture.”
While the plans for the new development are still being finalised, the company expects to break ground in the latter part of 2015 and complete the project in 2018.

Crown has certainly wanted to be in Vegas over the years with two expensive attempts to enter the market. In 2007 it bought Cannery Casino Resorts for $1.75bn, investing $250m for a 19.6 per cent stake in the failed Fontainebleau Resort. The casino remains unopened and unfinished. In 2008 it cancelled a proposal to build Crown Las Vegas, which would have been the tallest building on the Strip at a cost of $5bn, saying it was not ‘commercially viable.’ It lost $44m on the project.

Crown was also reported to be interested in buying the Cosmopolitan which was eventually bought by a subsidiary of the Blackstone Group, a private equity investment firm, for $1.73bn.

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