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The Deal: Caesars Launches Massive Refinancing

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Caesars Entertainment (CZR) has launched an initiative to refinance a total of $4.85 billion in debt, giving bondholders in its property unit a better-than-expected deal.

Under the refinancing plan, holders of $4.4 billion in commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) will receive $0.99 on the dollar plus accrued and unpaid interest while holders of $450 million in mezzanine debt will receive $0.90 on the dollar plus accrued and unpaid interest, according to a Sept. 17 statement.

Private equity-backed Caesars is sweetening the deal for new debt holders by throwing in its Octavius Tower and Linq assets--Las Vegas properties from its Caesars Operating Co. unit--as security on their loans.

To fund the refinancing, the Las Vegas-based casino and hotel operator plans to issue a $3 billion term loan, a $269.5 million revolving credit facility, $500 million in first-lien notes, and $1.35 billion in second-lien notes.

Caesars hasn't released information about the pricing of these new loans, but a bondholder in the property company said in a Sept. 18 interview that the company plans to price the first-lien loan at Libor plus 550 basis points with a 1% floor and a 99 offer price.

The casino operator hopes to price its $500 million in first-lien notes at 7% and its $1.35 billion in second-lien notes at 9.5% to 10%, the source added.

He thinks a 7% coupon for the first liens makes sense, but 9.5% to 10% seems too low for the second-lien notes. He believes 11% would be more reasonable, although the company may be able to swing a lower coupon price due to investors' hunger for yield.

The main point of this refinancing isn't to reduce Caesars' staggering debt load of $23.5 billion, as the discounts on the buyback are mild. The primary focus would be the elimination of worrisome debt maturities in 2015. This refi would give Caesars more time to work out a comprehensive restructuring to tackle its debt problem.

Now that the property company refinancing is underway, "All eyes are on the disaster at OpCo [Caesars Operating Co.]," the bondholder said.

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