Caesars Drops on Reports Lazard Hired for Refinancing

Caesars Entertainment Corp., the largest owner of casinos in the U.S., fell after reports that the company had hired Lazard Ltd. for advice on a debt restructuring.

The shares declined 3.7 percent to $21.81 at the close in New York. The Las Vegas-based company’s stock has advanced 57 percent in the past year.

Caesars, which was taken private in a 2008 leveraged buyout led by Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital, has about $24 billion in debt. Over the past two years, it has sold stock to the public, bought back debt at a discount and moved assets between subsidiaries. A restructuring of its Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. unit, which holds the bulk of its properties and debt, is seen as the next step in that process, according to John Kempf, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.

“We all think that this is coming sooner rather than later,” Kempf said today in a telephone interview.

Lazard is working with Caesars on financial restructuring opportunities, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The firm’s hiring was reported on Feb. 7 by Debtwire.

A refinancing will likely involve an exchange of second-lien debt for a combination of stock, new debt and cash, Kempf wrote in a report last month. It will be completed outside bankruptcy court, Kempf said.

Notes Slip

The company’s $789.7 million of 10 percent notes due in December 2018 fell about 1.1 percent today to 52.6 cents on the dollar, down from 53.2 cents on Feb. 7, according to Trace, the bond price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The notes are yielding 28.7 percent.

Contracts protecting against the company’s default for five years declined 0.6 percentage points to 54.9 percent upfront, according to data provider CMA, which is owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc. and compiles prices quoted by dealers in the privately negotiated market. That’s in addition to 5 percent a year, meaning it would cost $5.49 million initially and $500,000 annually to protect $10 million of Caesar’s debt against default.

A spokesman for Caesars declined to comment. Clare Pickett, a spokeswoman for Lazard, declined to comment.

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