Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, which provides casino entertainment services and owns, operates or manages more than 38 gaming and resort properties in the U.S. and abroad, is buried under $18 billion and debt. With pressure from creditors and a pending Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, Caesars desperately needed to make a move to free up some cash.

$4.4 billion dollars should help.

Caesars is getting a little bit of help from some friends in China.

On July 30, an agreement in principle was reached between Caesars Interactive Entertainment Inc. and a Chinese consortium, with the Chinese consortium agreeing to pay $4.4 billion in cash for only part of Caesars Interactive Entertainment's online games unit. The consortium includes Alibaba Group Holding's founder Jack Ma (net worth of $23.7 billion) and Shanghai Giant Network Technology Co, a game developer with  roughly 50 million monthly active users of its role-playing games.

The $4.4 billion, all cash, should help Caesars Entertainment Operating Company crawl out of debt.

Caesars Interactive Entertainment is mainly owned by the aforementioned distressed Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, along with Caesars Acquisition Co -- the two seeking to perform a complex merger to restructure debt. Creditor backing was necessary for a plan to restructure, and that should become a more distinct possibility based on the influx of cash, upon regulator approval of the deal.

Caesars keeps important pieces of mobile gaming as part of the deal.

While Caesars Interactive Entertainment certainly contemplates transferring valuable intellectual property, infrastructure and user bases to the Chinese consortium, it also managed to carve out a portion of its online games from the deal. Real money games -- where individuals are able to receive prizes after submitting an entry fee --  will not be a part of the transaction.

Games like Caesars' World Series of Poker and other real-money online gaming businesses will remain with Caesars Interactive Entertainment. Instead, the online games business Playtika, based in Herzliya, Israel and offering a selection of free-entry games that contain in-app purchasing opportunities, will be purchased by the Chinese consortium. Playtika was originally acquired by Caesars Interactive Entertainment in 2011 and built up to the value it maintains today.

"It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader," said Caesars Interactive Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Mitch Garber.  "Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users."

Creditors will have to wait for regulatory approval.

The $4.4 billion in cash will have to wait. The deal must go through standard regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. The parties expect the transaction to close in the third or fourth calendar quarter of 2016.

Published on: Jul 31, 2016
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