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Hakkasan’s takeover of Light Group is another step toward company’s dominance of the Strip

Theo James, Martin Garrix at Hakkasan

Joe Torrance / Powers Imagery / HakkasanLV.com

Hakkasan on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in MGM Grand Las Vegas.

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 | 6 p.m.

Nick Jonas, Olivia Culpo at Hakkasan

Nick Jonas, with girlfriend 2012 Miss Universe Olivia Culpo of the USA, celebrates his 22nd birthday at Hakkasan on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in MGM Grand Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Theo James, Martin Garrix at Hakkasan

Martin Garrix at Hakkasan on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in MGM Grand Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

Hakkasan First Anniversary: Night 1

Hakkasan Group CEO Neil Moffitt and Hakksan Group President Nick McCabe attend Night 1 of Hakkasan’s first-anniversary celebrations Thursday, April 24, 2014, at MGM Grand. Launch slideshow »

Hakkasan First Anniversary: Night 3

Tiesto and Hakkasan Group CEO Neil Moffitt attend Night 3 of Hakkasan's first-anniversary celebrations Saturday, April 26, 2014, at MGM Grand. Launch slideshow »

Well, it seems as if Hakkasan Group has finished its holiday shopping.

The entertainment conglomerate that seems to want for nothing has produced an embarrassment of riches in its purchase of controlling interest of The Light Group from Morgans Hotel Group.

The (MGM) Grand Takeaway: Hakkasan is now the largest entertainment and hospitality company operating in Las Vegas that does not provide gaming.

In its $36 million buyout of The Light Group, Hakkasan has added some of the city’s most famous nightclubs and restaurants. Among them: 1 OAK and The Beatles Revolution Lounge at Mirage, Light at Mandalay Bay (a partnership with Cirque du Soleil), the Bank and Lily at Bellagio and Deuce Lounge at Aria.

Its restaurant collection is now peppered with Fix and Yellowtail at Bellagio, Stack at Mirage, Kumi and Red Square at Mandalay Bay, Diablo’s Cantina at Monte Carlo and Hearthstone at Red Rock Resort.

This is in addition to the company’s Strip cornerstone, Hakkasan Nightclub and Wet Republic at MGM Grand. All of the company’s new clubs and restaurants are in MGM Resorts hotels, but Hakkasan also operates inside Caesars Palace, as the 75,000-square foot Omnia mega-club is targeted for a spring 2015 opening. That’s the nightclub formerly known as Pure (acquired as part of the company’s takeover of Angel Management Group in March), which nearly a decade ago helped spark the mega-club boom in Las Vegas.

The announced acquisition of The Light Group further reinforces Hakkasan as the most aggressive nightclub company on the Strip and a serious competitor for anyone conducting nightlife business in the city. Light opened its club at Mandalay Bay in the spring of 2013 hoping to compete with Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand, only to find itself ripe for picking. The One Group attempted to cut into the Las Vegas nightlife scene at the Strip and Tropicana Avenue by opening Bagatelle at the Trop in January 2013; by July, Bagatelle was a goner and the club space was renamed Havana Room and has been used solely for private functions for the past 18 months.

Meantime, the $100 million, 80,000-square-foot Hakkasan at MGM Grand should easily be one of the Top 10 earning nightclubs in the U.S. this year in the annual Nightclub & Bar Top 100 rankings. It was not in the 2013 year list simply because it was opened only since the spring of that year.

The benefits of Hakkasan’s investment in the Strip are self-evident. The company will continue to be one of the dominant entertainment and hospitality brands in the city, strengthened by the new businesses owned by The Light Group. In a statement released today, Hakkasan CEO Neil Moffitt said his company and The Light Group are “highly complementary businesses, and we intend to assume and maintain the vast majority of The Light Group’s contracts, licenses and events.”

One veteran resort and nightclub executive in Las Vegas, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Hakkasan is seeking to bolster its businesses outside this market and that the addition of the new club at Caesars will come at a cost.

"I think Hakkasan is capturing as much market shares as possible to feed all the clubs they want to open around the country," the source said. "This market is only getting more competitive. ... Once Omnia opens, I think a few clubs will really get hurt."

The challenge, as in any acquisition of this magnitude, is maintaining customer service. As one longtime club official who has worked for years on the Strip noted, “One club operator with that much on its plate doesn’t sound like fun for the consumer or independent reps. It’s very hard to maintain quality when you are that spread out.”

But Hakkasan is a confident company, top down, accustomed to handling several thousand customers on weekend nights at its MGM Grand nightclub. It’s not uncommon for 6,000 to 7,000 partygoers to pour through the doors on peak nights; the club managed to handle about that many guests on Easter Sunday.

The company’s interest in taking over businesses on the Strip has evidently not been limited to those clubs and restaurants owned by The Light Group, either. This, from a story published over the weekend in Forbes: “Multiple sources also confirmed that Hakkasan had made inquiries to buy out nightlife operator Tao Group, whose venues include Vegas’ Marquee Nightclub (at Cosmopolitan) and New York’s Marquee. Those inquiries were made earlier this year but never led to substantial negotiations, said those close to the companies.” Tao also owns the club fortress of that name at Venetian and Lavo at Palazzo.

No, the time was not now for Tao, but Hakkasan still forged quite a blockbuster to end the year. There was a time not so long ago when Hakkasan was a largely unknown name in Las Vegas. Now that brand glows all night, every night, up and down the Strip.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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