Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
CARSON CITY — A recapitalization plan by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. to open the door eventually to sell public stock has been recommended for approval by the state Gaming Control Board.
Eric Hession of Harrah’s told the board it has reduced its debt from $25.8 billion to $20.8 billion, preparing the company for an economic recovery.
In Nevada, Harrah’s has casinos in places including Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe.
Hession and Michael Cohen of Harrah’s explained the transaction, saying the giant casino company has reduced its annual interest expense by more than $125 million and extended the maturity dates for the debt.
Paulson & Co. is exchanging the debt it is owed by Harrah’s for 9.9 percent in the company.
Paulson would not have any members on the company’s board of directors but could put its interest on the public market, Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said.
Following close of the transaction, Harrah’s will file a registration statement with the Securities Exchange Commission to register a certain share of the company. It will also apply to list those shares on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.
As a result, Harrah’s will have publicly traded equity that will provide additional flexibility for raising capital, the company said.
Neilander said Harrah’s is a “very stable” company that for 30 years was on the public market.
The board also recommended approval for the licensing of Jonathan Halkyard, Thomas Jenkin and Cohen as officers in the company.
The parent Nevada Gaming Commission meets Oct. 21 to take final action on the application.