In 2008, just before the financial crisis hit, Apollo Global Management ( APO) and TPG completed their purchase of Harrah's Entertainment for $17.3 billion. In a sin of the markets exuberance, the private equity firms had to pay $90 a share for the world's biggest casino operator to up a bid of $87 a share made by Penn National Gaming ( PENN), a much smaller casino operator, and hedge fund D.E. Shaw.

In June 2010, Paulson & Co, a hedge fund manager that injected cash into Harrah's by buying an equity stake of almost 10% in the casino company to take on $710 million in company debt. In the fall of 2010, private equity owners and Paulson & Co. tried to sell 31.25 million shares of Harrah's to the public in the range of $15 and $17 a share, but they benched the deal citing market conditions. Harrah's operates about 50 casinos, mostly in the United States and Britain. Unlike competitors Las Vegas Sands ( LVS) and Wynn Resorts ( WYNN), Harrah's does not have a casino in Macau.

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