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LAS VEGAS-Harrah’s Entertainment last week bought a subordinated chunk of the $860-million mortgage loan on Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino the day before the loan slipped into default, according to published reports. Like the rest of the properties on the Las Vegas Strip, the 2,500-room resort is suffering through a steep drop-off in revenue during the recession.

Planet Hollywood’s ownership includes restaurateur Robert Earl and investment manager Bay Harbour Management. Harrah’s was acquired at the start of 2008 by private-equity firms Apollo Management LP and TPG Capital. It purchased its piece of Plant Hollywood’s debt from Goldman Sachs Mortgage Corp.

The mortgage’s servicer, Key Corp., sent the casino’s owners a default notice last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter. Citing a second quarter analysis prepared by Deutsche Bank, the Las Vegas Sun , which broke the story, writes that the loan came due last year but Planet Hollywood ownership exercised an option to extend the maturity date by a year, to December 9. The loan agreement reportedly includes a three year extension option that is subject to the payment of a fee and other requirements.

Planet Hollywood ownership may seek protection from creditors via Ch. 11 bankruptcy, which might put Harrah’s in a position to assume control of the property. It might also end up being a simple investment if property performance bounces back quickly. Spokespeople for Harrah’s, Planet Hollywood, KeyCorp and Starwood Resorts [the property manager and a minority owner], all declined requests for comment by one or both of the newspapers.

To read the full WSJ article, click here; For the full LV Sun article, click here

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