US casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corporation is currently in talks with Carl Icahn, to select a new CEO, which would see the billionaire investor receive board seats as part of the agreement. On Tuesday, Icahn disclosed a 9.8% stake in Caesars and claimed he could nominate directors to the company’s board, but not before pushing the operator to explore a sale, but Caesars responded soon after claiming that all avenues have been explored and those on the table were undervalued, thus deeming the proposals not profitable for shareholders. However, Caesars noted that they will continue to consider alternatives, should they be presented to them.
Icahn proposes that Anthony Rodio, the CEO of Affinity Gaming (previously CEO of Tropicana Entertainment Inc), a privately held gaming company, to become the successor to Mark Frissora, the CEO of Caesars who is due to step down later this year. Caesars welcomes Icahn to have a say on the selection process and be part of board negotiations, but there is already shortlist of names to become CEO of the gambling establishment, with some sources claiming the company is prepared to offer a role to Rodio to oversee its operations. Despite there being a lack of a chief operating officer at Caesars, duties are carried out by Tom Jenkin, the company’s president.
Icahn has until 1st of March to nominate his own board of directors. If Caesars and Icahn fail to reach an agreement, the company could extend the deadline. Sources who divulged the information have asked not to be named, due to the sensitive nature of negotiations. On a request for comment, Icahn failed to respond and both Caesars and Affinity Gaming declined to comment. Calls for the company to run an open sale process came on Friday by hedge fund Canyon Partners LLC, another top investor in Caesars. As of yet, Caesars is not currently in talks to offer Canyon Partners LLC board representation, despite being in favour of Icahn.
In 2017, Caesars casinos peaked from bankruptcy, from $25 billion in spiralling debts to now owning market capitalisation of $6 billion, however, debts at the end of December 2018 reached $9.1 billion. A merger between Caesars and Tilman Fertitta, the owner of Golden Nugget Casino, was rejected last year.