By Katherine Sayre, Miriam Gottfried and Cara Lombardo 

MGM Resorts International is nearing an agreement to sell the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay resorts and casinos on the Las Vegas Strip to a joint venture that includes private-equity and real-estate giant Blackstone Group Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Blackstone would own slightly less than half of the properties through its private real-estate investment trust, while MGM Growth Properties LLC, a public REIT, would own the remainder, the people said. The total purchase price couldn't be learned, but the deal values MGM Grand, the company's largest property by square footage as of its most recent annual financial filing, at roughly $2.5 billion, the people said.

The deal is expected to be similar to MGM Resorts' sale of its flagship Bellagio casino in Las Vegas to Blackstone last year.

In October, Blackstone said its private real-estate investment trust, known as BREIT, would take control of the Bellagio through a $4.25 billion joint venture with MGM. MGM, which retained a 5% stake in the venture, continues to operate the casino and is renting the property from the venture for $245 million a year.

MGM Chief Executive Jim Murren said on a conference call in October that the company planned to also sell the MGM Grand, using the Bellagio transaction as a blueprint for future real-estate deals.

The MGM Grand Las Vegas includes a hotel and resort as well as three condominium towers.

MGM sold another Las Vegas Strip casino, Circus Circus, to Phil Ruffin, who also owns the Treasure Island casino, for $825 million last year.

The MGM Grand sale would be another step in MGM's "asset light" strategy intended to pull cash out of its real estate and focus on new business areas including sports betting, entertainment and a casino development in Japan. The company, which has a market value of about $17 billion, began evaluating real-estate deals to help pay off debt after its board of directors formed a real-estate committee in January 2019.

Write to Katherine Sayre at katherine.sayre@wsj.com, Miriam Gottfried at Miriam.Gottfried@wsj.com and Cara Lombardo at cara.lombardo@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 14, 2020 08:21 ET (13:21 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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