October 17, 2018 / 3:02 PM / 4 months ago

Exclusive: Casino mogul Fertitta approaches Ceasars about merger - sources

Tilman J. Fertitta speaks at a panel during the NBCUniversal summer press day in Westlake Village, California April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

(Reuters) - Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire owner of the Golden Nugget Casinos, has approached U.S. casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp about merging it with his own gaming empire, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

Fertitta, whose holdings also include the Houston Rockets professional basketball team and restaurant and entertainment company Landry’s, is contemplating a reverse merger in which Caesars would be the acquirer, and Caesars shareholders, including private equity firms Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Global, would remain shareholders in the combined company, the sources said.

It is unclear whether Caesars will entertain the offer, given the company has a market capitalization of $6.3 billion and Fertitta’s net worth is pegged by Forbes at $4.5 billion, the sources said.

The sources cautioned that a deal is not certain and asked not to be identified because the matter is confidential. Caesars declined to comment, while representatives of Fertitta, TPG, Apollo and Jack did not respond to requests for comment.

Caesars has been focused on other acquisitions since emerging from bankruptcy last year, and is currently exploring a bid for Jack Entertainment LLC, a casino company owned by online mortgage lender Quicken Loans Inc founder Dan Gilbert. Jack could be worth as much as $3 billion, one source said.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe

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