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LAS VEGAS-Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group have upped the ante in their bid for Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. Information circulated over the weekend and swelled on Monday that the pair could buyout the gaming company for nearly $17 billion. Sources have the latest offering at $90 a share–about $16.7 billion.

In October, GlobeSt.com reported that private-equity firms Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group had made a bid for Harrah’s at roughly $81 per share. Then, earlier this month, we reported that the bid had risen to $83.50 a share, or about $15.5 billion. However, Penn National Gaming, a race track and casino operator, made the buy a bidding war, with a cash-and-stock offer of $87 per share, or $71 in cash and $16 from stock.

This latest bid caused a rush on Harrah’s stock Monday as shares jumped $2.43, up to $81.93, a 3.1% hike. Harrah’s is the nation’s largest gaming operation. Among its portfolio are Caesars Palace and Bally’s in Las Vegas.

If the deal were to go through, it would fly in the face of early prognostications concerning the acquisition. In early October, Harrah’s board of directors formed a special committee of non-management directors to review the proposal from the private equity firms. Harrah’s made clear that the company has not determined that such a “transaction is in the best interests of Harrah’s and its stockholders or that Harrah’s should not continue as an independent public company pursuing its business plan as the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment.”

The Harrah’s buy-out is the latest in a big gaming shakeout. Earlier this month, GlobeSt.com reported that Station Casinos Inc. chairman and CEO Frank Fertitta and partners offered to buy all outstanding shares of the locally headquartered public company for $82 apiece, or about $4.7 billion.

Also, in May, Kerzner International Ltd. signed off on an $81-a-share buy-out offer from a private group led by its chairman Sol Kerzner and its chief executive Burt Kerzner. The merger was consummated in September. Other members of that buy-out group are Istithmar PJSC, Whitehall Street Global Real Estate Limited Partnership 2005, Colony Capital LLC, Providence Equity Partners Inc. and the Related Cos. LP.

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