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MGM, Dubai Fall Behind on .5 Billion Loan for Las Vegas Plan

by By Pierre Paulden and Jonathan Keehner Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2008 at 3:04 AM

July 29 (Bloomberg) -- MGM Mirage and Dubai World are late in raising as much as .5 billion for their .2 billion CityCenter project in Las Vegas because banks saddled with debt to casinos and hotels are wary of making new loans.

MGM, Dubai Fall Behi...
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Deutsche Bank AG and Credit Suisse Group, the Zurich-based bank that advised Dubai World last year when it invested .1 billion in MGM, are among the holdouts, bankers with knowledge of the matter said. Funding was supposed to be completed by the end of June, MGM Chief Financial Officer Daniel D'Arrigo told analysts in May. President James Murren said Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank has been part of every MGM loan since 1998.

``No company in America is having an easy time doing bank deals right now,'' Murren said in an interview. ``There will be some banks that can't commit because they have a lot of exposure in the area or don't like the pricing.''

Deutsche Bank, the biggest German bank, hasn't yet made a decision on financing CityCenter, said spokesman John Gallagher in New York. ``We continue to evaluate the opportunity,'' he said. Duncan King, a New York-based spokesman for Credit Suisse, the second-largest Swiss bank, declined to comment.

``Wall Street firms are scrutinizing their extension of credit, particularly to the gaming industry, where the sentiment is pretty weak,'' said Michael Paladino, an analyst at Fitch Ratings in New York.

The amount of commercial and industrial loans from banks, plus short-term commercial paper, fell almost 3 percent during the past year to .27 trillion, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve.

Norman Foster

Building the 76-acre ``city-within-a-city,'' designed by architects, including Norman Foster and Daniel Liebeskind, is costing Las Vegas-based MGM and Dubai about 0 million each per month, D'Arrigo said in May. MGM and Dubai World will raise at least billion and may increase that to .5 billion to fund construction, MGM's Murren said on July 14.

Murren, 46, declined to comment on which banks have signed on for the deal or on its terms.

Bank of America Corp. is leading the fundraising and has commitments of as much as billion from banks including UBS AG and Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, a banker involved in the deal said. Bank of America also is seeking financing from Middle Eastern and Asian banks, the banker said.

Louise Hennessy, a spokeswoman for Charlotte-based Bank of America, and UBS spokeswoman Rohini Pragasam declined to comment. Peter Ward, a spokesman for Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland, didn't return calls for comment. Officials at Dubai World, the investment company with 0 billion of assets that's owned by the emirate's government, didn't return calls.

Las Vegas Market

``Some international banks are seizing this as an opportunity to become larger within our family relationships,'' Murren said.

New York-based Citigroup Inc., which has taken .6 billion of writedowns, and Barclays Plc of London have passed on the deal, said a banker involved in the fundraising. Citigroup spokeswoman Brooke Berard and Barclays spokesman Brandon Ashcraft declined to comment.

The Las Vegas casino industry has been struggling with revenue falling 16 percent in May, the fifth straight monthly decline, amid near-record gasoline prices and rising unemployment in the U.S., according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

Deutsche Bank took over the .5 billion Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino in January after developer Ian Bruce Eichner defaulted on a loan. The Cosmopolitan, due to be completed next year, is on the Las Vegas strip near the Tropicana Resort & Casino, whose parent filed for bankruptcy protection in May.

Harrah's Debt Tumbles

Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse and Citigroup provided financing for the billion takeover of Las Vegas-based Harrah's Entertainment Inc. by leveraged buyout firms Apollo Management LP in New York and TPG Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas, in January. Harrah's .4 billion of 10.75 percent notes due in 2018 have fallen to about 70 cents on the dollar to yield 17 percent since the start of the year.

CityCenter, located between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo casinos, is different from its highly leveraged competitors, Murren said. The project, which is scheduled to open in late 2009, relies mainly on equity capital as opposed to debt. Dubai and MGM can increase their contributions to CityCenter if financing costs climb, he said.

Increasing the equity contribution would leave less capital for future projects and could lower MGM's credit rating, said Peggy Holloway, a senior credit officer at Moody's Investors Service in New York. Moody's put MGM's debt under review for downgrade earlier this month, reflecting the need to complete the CityCenter financing and the ``challenging operating environment in Las Vegas.'' MGM is rated Ba2, the second-highest junk rating.

``There was some belief'' that Las Vegas was recession- resistant, Holloway said. ``Clearly, that hasn't been the case.''
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