Struggling casino operator Caesars Entertainment is considering a sale of its interactive unit, one of the few branches of the Caesars family tree that actually makes money.
On Friday, reports surfaced that Caesars had received multiple, unsolicited offers to acquire Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE), which includes an extremely lucrative social gaming division, a less successful real-money online gambling operation and the World Series of Poker brand.
The bids reportedly value CIE at over $4b and Wall Street Journal sources said Caesars had enlisted investment bank Raine Group to help evaluate the offers, while stressing the usual caveats that no formal sale process was ongoing and thus there was no guarantee that a deal would happen.
There’s no question that CIE would be an attractive acquisition target, given its demonstrated capacity to monetize social casino players at a much higher rate than its competitors. But there’s the teensy problem that CIE is jointly owned by Caesars and another Caesars-controlled entity, Caesars Acquisition Co (CACQ), and the latter company’s very existence is the subject of multiple lawsuits.
For over a year now, Caesars has been trying to bring its main operating unit Caesars Entertainment Operating Co (CEOC) out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. But the pre-bankruptcy transfers of profitable properties like CIE out of the floundering CEOC – and theoretically out of creditors’ reach – has met with fierce resistance. In March, an independent investigator said these asset transfers were made despite Caesars’ owners knowing that CEOC was already technically bankrupt.
That investigator also said Caesars owed its creditors up to $5b more than it had been offering them via CEOC’s restructuring plan and a CIE sale would go a long way toward funding that liability. But CIE has been the lone bright spot of Caesars’ dire results over the past couple years, and its absence could legally require future Caesars analyst calls to be accompanied by mournful cello music in the background.