LAS VEGAS-Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. will become the biggest player in the casino industry with its nearly $9.5-billion purchase of rival Caesars Entertainment, Inc. Both companies operate 28 casinos each, with Caesars’ gambling emporiums totaling two million sf while the Harrah’s properties total 1.7 million sf.

“We are adding attractive assets in stable markets with outstanding long-term growth prospects where we have a demonstrated record of success,” says Harrah’s Entertainment president and chief executive officer Gary Loveman. “We are particularly pleased to be acquiring some of the premier properties on the Las Vegas Strip, in Atlantic City and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

Caesars shareholders will receive an aggregate of $1.8 billion in cash and 66.3 million shares of Harrah’s Entertainment common stock. Harrah’s also is assuming debt, dropping the value of the deal into 10 digits. While the boards of directors of both companies have approved the deal, shareholders and various regulatory agencies also must weigh in.

“The transaction delivers excellent value to our shareholders–including an ownership position in the world’s largest and most diversified gaming company–and significant growth opportunities for our employees,” adds Caesars Entertainment chairman Stephen Bollenbach.

Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Latham & Watkins LLP advised Harrah’s while UBS Investment Bank and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP advised Caesars.

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