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Palms Casino Resort owner George Maloof said Tuesday that management of the casino west of the Las Vegas Strip won't change as an ownership shuffle reduces his family share to 2 percent.
Maloof told The Associated Press that he will remain the casino's chairman, and operations won't significantly change.
"Not having any debt is a pretty good position to be in, and we're going to grow at the Palms and look at things that we want to do here and look at other opportunities," he said. "It was real important to be nimble in these times and I think we're in a great position now."
The restructuring announced last week gives TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners each a 49 percent share in a deal that Maloof said erases more than $400 million in debt. The casino will still have about $20 million in debt tied to Palms Place, its condo-hotel tower connected with the casino.
The Maloof family has the option to buy back up to a 20-percent share through options and warrants, depending on the casino's results going forward, Maloof said.
The casino is already doing a lot better, he said.
"I don't think operationally you'll see much change -- I think we always want to look at ways to do things better," Maloof said. "That's the intent."
The deal is contingent on approval from Nevada gambling regulators, who could come in about four to five months, he said. The application was submitted this week, gambling regulators said.
TPG Capital is a major stakeholder in Caesars Entertainment Corp., the world's largest gambling company with nine casinos in Sin City. But Maloof said that the ownership structure proposed at the Palms is different from Caesars and there have been no discussions about putting the Palms into the Caesars portfolio.
Last year, Caesars closed a deal to buy the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip by converting into equity $306 million of the casino's debt that it bought for $70 million, and assuming $554 million in loans.
Caesars, which reported a narrowed loss of $147.5 million during the first quarter this year, is known for its analytical approach to attracting gamblers through its casino loyalty program, Total Rewards. The program, which targets potential high-spending gamblers with freebies and personalized offers, shepherds customers to Las Vegas through smaller casinos in regional markets throughout the United States.
The Palms has struggled along with many Sin City casinos during the past three years, as economic worries force tourists to spend less on gambling and entertainment, while construction projects funded before the recession made competition tougher in the market.
The Palms focuses on attracting visitors through celebrities and nightlife. It plans to host the 2011 NHL Awards on Wednesday and NBA star Shaquille O'Neal's retirement party on Saturday night.
Separate from the Palms, the Maloofs are also part of the group that owns the NBA's Sacramento Kings in California. The Kings recently flirted with relocating to Anaheim, Calif., but decided last month to stay at least one more season. NBA Commissioner David Stern has said the franchise will likely relocate if Sacramento doesn't come up with plans for a new arena.
Oskar Garcia can be reached at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia.