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LAS VEGAS-Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest casino company by revenue, is now a private company. The owner of 39 casinos is now in the hands of private equity firms Apollo Management LP and TPG Capital, whose investors include private and public pension funds, endowments and institutions.

The deal was first announced in December 2006. The transaction required the approval of Harrah’s shareholders and gambling regulators in more than a dozen states and several tribal nations where Harrah’s operates.

Technically Harrah’s merged with Hamlet Merger Inc., a Delaware corporation. Harrah’s outstanding shares and non-voting stock are owned by entities affiliated with Apollo Management, L.P. and TPG Capital LP (together with certain co-investors and members of management) and the voting stock of Harrah’s is owned by Hamlet Holdings LLC, which is controlled by individuals affiliated with Apollo TPG.

Harrah’s is the world’s largest casino company by revenue. It operates 39 casinos across the US, including Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Flamingo and Paris on the Las Vegas Strip. Internationally, it owns stakes in casinos in Canada and Uruguay and owns UK-based London Clubs International PLC, which operates 10 casinos in UK, Egypt, and South Africa. The company has plans for $4 billion in growth-related spending over the next several years, including $2.1 billion in Nevada.

Per the merger agreement signed Dec. 19, 2006, TPG and Apollo affiliates have agreed to acquire Harrah’s in an all-cash transaction valued on that date at approximately $27.8 billion. The figure includes $90 in cash for each outstanding share of Harrah’s common stock and the assumption of $10.7 billion of debt. The result of the deal will be a near doubling of Harrah’s debt load, which will require it to focus on paying down that debt rather than reinvesting in growth, according to related documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition, Harrah’s said in a February 2007 regulatory filing that it planned to split its real estate holdings from its operations by the time the acquisition is completed.

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