Rockets Owner Fertitta Out Hunting for Another $1 Billion Deal

Tilman Fertitta

Photographer: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Fresh off his record-setting purchase of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Tilman Fertitta is shopping for a billion-dollar deal.

Landcadia Holdings Inc. began trading as a so-called blank-check company in May last year, based on Fertitta’s ability to make acquisitions. The restaurant and casino magnate said in an interview Tuesday at Bloomberg’s Houston office that his Fertitta Entertainment Inc. teamed up with Jefferies Group LLC to form the company so that he and best friend Richard Handler, the CEO of Jefferies, would have “something that we could do together.”

Fertitta has until mid-2018 to make a deal or return the money to investors who bought stock in the special-purpose acquisition company. Landcadia generated $250 million in an initial public offering and is looking for a transaction between $600 million and $1 billion, he said during the interview. The host of CNBC’s reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer” said he has yet to narrow down which industry to target.

“I’m looking for something,” Fertitta said just after a media event formally marking his $2.2 billion Rockets acquisition. “Every time I think I have a break, then I started shooting a show and then the Rocket deal happened.”

If successful, Fertitta would follow the blank-check path carved by a couple other Houstonians recently.

James Hackett, the former chief executive of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. who retired to attend Harvard Divinity School, is back to running an oil company thanks to the funding mechanism. With the help of private equity firm Riverstone Holdings, Hackett formed Silver Run Acquisition Corp. II. After acquiring Oklahoma oil fields, the company will be renamed Alta Mesa Resources Inc. and have a market value of $3.8 billion once the deals close.

Mark Papa, who built Enron Corp. castoff EOG Resources Inc. into the fourth-biggest U.S. driller, retired from that company in 2013. He then returned to the industry to create Centennial Resource Development Inc. using the funding system Hackett is now using.

Whatever he ends up buying, Fertitta and his development team have eyes on expansion.

“Being a SPAC, it’s got to be a very high-growth company,” Fertitta said. “You have to be able to grow quickly.”

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