Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010 | 3:19 p.m.
CARSON CITY – Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest gaming company with 53 casinos, has won final approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission for a public stock offering.
The company went private in 2008 but now plans a public offering to raise at least $500 million.
Harrah's executive Jonathan S. Halkyard said the money raised would reduce debt, lower interest payments and extend the maturity of debt.
He told the commission today that under the recapitalization plan, the company wouldn't have any major debts come due until 2015 and plans are to pay them off earlier.
Michael Cohen, also a company official, said this was exchange debt for equity in the company. He said it was a good time to sell the stock and those shares will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.
The company has about $20 billion in debt.
Apollo Management and TPG hold 89 percent of the company. Cohen said the stock sale would reduce their holdings to 83 percent.
He said there are no changes planned in directors. Billionaire John Paulson holds 9 percent of the company.
Harrah’s is planning to complete a 660-room tower at Caesars Palace and also plans to build a hotel-casino in Cincinnati in a joint venture with Rock Gaming.
Cohen said money raised through the stock offering would give Harrah’s “flexibility” in its financial picture.