Blackstone Attaches Massive Price Tag to Sale of the Cosmopolitan

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The Cosmopolitan was meant to be the latest and greatest casino in Las Vegas when it first opened in 2010, but has constantly run into trouble. Even before it was completed, the property was out of control and ran over budget during construction. Investment firm Blackstone, Inc. bought it in 2014 during a fire sale, hedging a bet that it would be able to turn a massive profit by reselling the property. That hasn’t materialized, however, but Blackstone isn’t giving up. According to Bloomberg, it has put the Cosmopolitan back on the market, but, this time, wants even more money than the outrageous sum it wanted before.

Blackstone’s Billion-dollar Dream

Deutsche Bank built the Cosmopolitan and, when it opened 11 years ago, it ultimately cost the global bank $3.9 billion to complete. Four years later, and a long way from recuperating its investment, Deutsche Bank unloaded it to Blackstone for $1.73 billion. At the time, it would have seemed like a smart move for the New York-based investment firm, with a quick flip possible. However, in keeping with Cosmopolitan’s financial hardships, that still hasn’t materialized.

Blackstone tried to sell the property two years ago, putting a price tag of at least $4 billion on it. Despite the buying spree that was occurring in the casino market at the time, no one seemed to be seriously interested. Blackstone gave up, but now is trying to unload it again, this time for even more money. The company reportedly wants at least $5 billion, which is more than what Genting Group spent to build its brand-new Resorts World Las Vegas resort.

Limited Interest in Round Two

There has reportedly been some interest in the purchase of the Cosmopolitan, but not much. In the changing casino ecosystem that finds casino owners selling their properties to real estate investment trusts (REIT) while retaining operating rights, Blackstone hopes it can find a similar deal. Apollo Global Management, which has been targeting the global casino market, is said to be kicking the tires, but hasn’t confirmed whether it is definitely interested.

MGM Resorts International is also taking a look, according to Bloomberg, but that’s more likely an opportunity to drum up support for another buyer. MGM has unloaded several properties recently, including two CityCenter hotels it sold to Blackstone in July, and has hinted at wanting to spend more time and resources building its digital gaming operations. The only viable route for MGM would be to work a deal with an REIT that would see the latter put up a large portion of the funds, with MGM purchasing operating rights. Blackstone and MGM already have a solid relationship in Vegas, with the investment firm owning the real estate under the Bellagio, as well as almost 50% of the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay assets. It is also purchasing Aria and Vdara from the operator.

Penn National could also be a potential suitor. According to Vital Vegas, the casino operator is a “dark horse” that might be interested in the Cosmopolitan. However, it is currently stretched thin with its portfolio and taking on a $5-billion purchase could prove to be too challenging. Even though casino prices continue to rise, $5 billion for the Cosmopolitan in the current gaming environment would be challenging for any company.

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