Icahn sells unfinished Vegas casino for $600m

By Robert Simmons
Billionaire casino mogul Carl Icahn has sold an unfinished casino development in Las Vegas for $600m, seven years after purchasing the site for $148m.

The businessman confirmed on Tuesday that he entered an agreement with real estate investment and development firms, Witkoff and New Valley who are both owned by the Vector Group. The move follows Icahn selling the shuttered Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City earlier this year.

The 27-acre, $2.9bn, 68-storey Fontainebleau Las Vegas hotel and casino development is across the street from the Las Vegas Convention Centre, which is currently undergoing a $1.4bn renovation.

In an emailed statement to Forbes magazine, New York-based developer Steven Witkoff said: “We acquired a well-designed, structurally sound integrated resort at a significant discount to both replacement cost and the implied public market valuations of comparable Las Vegas Strip resorts.

“We look forward to applying our industry-leading value-enhancing platform to this property to unlock its true growth potential.”

Construction was due to begin on the property in 2009, but stalled due to the economic effects of the worldwide financial crisis, which later forced its former owners to file for bankruptcy.

The Las Vegas Strip-located Fontainebleau casino resort was to feature nearly 2,900 hotel rooms, more than 1,000 condominium units, food and beverage facilities, a 180,000-square-foot retail facility, and a nearly 100,000-square-foot casino.

Icahn purchased the site in February 2010 and ever since then, potential buyers including the MGM Resorts International group have circled the property, but none have taken the plunge.

Today’s sale of the Fontainebleau hands Icahn and his co-investors over $450m in profits.
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