Apollo, TPG Slash Caesars' Stake as Icahn Increases Holdings

(Bloomberg) -- Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital, the two private equity giants that controlled Caesars Entertainment Corp. for a decade, sold half their stake in the casino operator.

Apollo and TPG sold about 36.7 million shares of the Las Vegas-based company to a third party, according to a regulatory filing Friday. Hamlet Holdings, their holding company, now owns about 5.7 percent of the stock.

The news coincided with a filing by billionaire Carl Icahn, who reported that he boosted his stake by 50 percent to become Caesars’ largest individual shareholder. Icahn said entities related to him purchased 38.9 million shares at around $8.50 each, giving him a 15.5 percent stake.

Caesars, which was purchased in a $30 billion leveraged buyout led by Apollo and TPG in 2008, has struggled since then under a mountain of debt and increasing competition in the U.S. casino business. The company’s largest unit emerged from bankruptcy two years ago in a deal that gave more control to debt investors.

Icahn, an investor known for bargain hunting and corporate activism, began actively acquiring shares earlier this year. On March 1, Caesars negotiated an agreement with Icahn that gave him three seats on the board and input on the selection of a new chief executive officer. The company is the largest owner of casinos in the U.S.

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