Investment firm that bought Encore Boston Harbor buys stake in Bellagio
MGM Resorts International will continue to operate the Bellagio after a San Diego-based investment firm said it was acquiring a 21.9 percent ownership of the Strip hotel-casino from Blackstone Real Estate Americas for $950 million.
Realty Income Corp. said in a statement last week it viewed the transaction as an investment opportunity. Last year, the company paid $1.7 billion to acquire the real estate associated with Encore Boston Harbor from Wynn Resorts, which continues to operate the hotel-casino through a long-term lease.
MGM Resorts, which sold a 95 percent stake in the real estate of Bellagio to New York-based Blackstone’s real estate investment trust in 2019 for $4.25 billion, retained the operations under a long-term lease agreement for $245 million in annual rent.
When the deal with Realty Income closes later this year, Blackstone will still own 73.1 percent of the 4,000-room resort and MGM will retain its 5 percent stake.
“This transaction to acquire an interest in the Bellagio, an iconic property, represents our second investment in the gaming industry and exemplifies the advantages of our size, scale and access to capital,” said Realty Income CEO Sumit Roy.
Nadeem Meghji, who oversees the Blackstone REIT, said the sale was “a “terrific outcome” for the company’s shareholders.
“The Bellagio is an iconic property in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip and we look forward to our continued ownership of this asset, now in partnership with Realty Income,” he said.
MGM Resorts has its own REIT, MGM Growth Properties, which was sold in 2022 to rival gaming REIT VICI Properties for $17.2 billion.
CBRE Equity Research analyst John DeCree commented on the absence of VICI from the Bellagio deal since the company owns the real estate associated with six other MGM properties on the Strip: MGM Grand, New York-New York, Park MGM, Luxor, Excalibur and Mandalay Bay.
On the Strip, VICI owns roughly 660 acres covering 10 resorts operated by MGM, Caesars Entertainment, Apollo Global Management and Hard Rock Entertainment.
“Although the Bellagio is an iconic asset on the Las Vegas Strip, VICI doesn’t necessarily need incremental exposure to Las Vegas at this point, especially a minority ownership interest in a joint venture structure,” DeCree wrote in a note to investors.
The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2023 but does not require the approval of Nevada gaming regulators since the operations of Bellagio will not change.
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