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LAS VEGAS-MGM Mirage this week maxed out its massive credit line and delayed the filing of its 10-K with the SEC, which it warned will now likely include a statement from its independent accountant questioning the company’s ability to continue as a ‘going concern’ indefinitely. The owner of 10 casinos on the Las Vegas Strip is loaded down with approximately $13 billion in debt, including around $7 billion in bank loans, and rapidly declining fundamentals on the Strip are taxing its ability to meet lenders’ loan covenants related to liquidity, profitability and leverage.

“If the recent adverse conditions in the economy in general–and the gaming industry in particular–continue, [MGM Mirage] believes that it will not be in compliance with those financial covenants during 2009,” the company said in an SEC filing late Tuesday. “Such noncompliance would constitute an event of default under the senior credit facility.”

Part of the problem is its massive Citycenter project. MGM Mirage had planned for sales of the 2,700 condos in the project to help fund its completion but sales have been slow and there are 400 fewer units to sell now because 400 units at the Harmon won’t be built due at least in part to construction errors.

While it’s possible the company won’t be able to amend or obtain waivers from the covenants in its senior credit facility, causing it to default, and lenders would then try to take control, it’s also possible billionaire majority stockholder Kirk Kerkorian will step in to try to prevent his 53.8% stake in the company from becoming worthless as Sheldon Adelson did for rival Las Vegas Sands Corp. late last year. Dubai World, which owns a 9.4% stake, but can own as much as 20%, might also prove a savior.

In November, Adelson, Las Vegas Sands’ principal stockholder, chairman and chief executive purchased 5.25 million preferred shares and warrants for an additional 87.5 million common shares at $6 a pop as part of a larger $2.4-billion public offering that also included 181.8 million common shares at $5.50 each. One month earlier, Adelson personally loaned the company $475 million so that it could get to offering without a default.

The deal with the Adelson family requires it convert the 6.5% convertible senior notes due 2013 into shares of the company’s common stock at a conversion price equal to the public offering price of $5.50 per share. That would normally require approval of stockholders according to the Shareholder Approval Policy of the NYSE but Las Vegas Sands used an exception in the policy–that any delay would seriously jeopardize the offering as well as the financial viability of the company–to avoid the extra step.

The offering more than doubled Las Vegas Sands’ number of outstanding shares, diluting their value for current shareholders, including Adelson, but the “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern” expressed by the company’s independent accountant prior to the deal was taken back a few weeks later and has not returned.

Las Vegas Sands share price fell from the $8 range to the $5 range after the accounting firm’s dire assessment then rebounded on news of the successful capital raise, jumping back up past $6.50 on Nov. 18. The company’s share price closed trading Wednesday at $2.23 per share. Shares of MGM Mirage closed trading Wednesday at $2.21. Each company’s share price is down more than 96% from one year ago.

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