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MGM Mirage Juggernaut Rolls On

LAS VEGAS - MGM Mirage, the world’s largest casino company, has made an offer of $4.85 billion in cash for the Mandalay Resort Group.

MGM Mirage would control about half the hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip if it manages to pull off the multibillion-dollar buyout, which includes assuming $2.8 billion in Mandalay debt.

MGM Mirage, as the world's largest casino company, also would dominate the most lucrative gambling market in the world with 10 hotel-casinos along the famous five-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard, including the immensely profitable Bellagio and Mandalay Bay resorts. It also would control about 40 percent of the slot machines and 44 percent of the gambling tables.

MGM Mirage would hold sway over Las Vegas if its purchase is successful, Deutsche Bank gambling analyst Andrew Zarnett said Monday.

MGM Mirage offered $68 a share, but analysts said negotiations and a possible bidding war could drive the price above $75 to $80 share.

Mandalay's stock soared 10 percent on the news.

It's not clear if merger rumors prompted the run-up in prices. Mandalay Resort Group announced record first-quarter earnings late Thursday thanks to its new tower at Mandalay Bay called THEhotel and a lucrative convention center that opened in 2003.

Mandalay said it's evaluating the $7.65 billion offer, which was characterized by a source close to the talks as "friendly but unsolicited." It has hired Merrill Lynch and the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore as financial and legal advisers for the negotiations that began last week.


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