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MGM Resorts has agreed to sell two of its most notable Las Vegas properties, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay, to a joint venture including real estate giant Blackstone. The company is going asset-light following its sale of the Bellagio last year.

A new joint venture between MGM Growth Properties LLC and private equity giant Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. has agreed to buy the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay casino and resort properties in Las Vegas for $4.6 billion.

MGM Resorts will continue to manage and operate the two properties on a day-to-day basis through a long-term master lease. The joint venture will own the properties and receive rent payments. MGM Resorts will pay an initial annual rent of $292 million.

Right now, MGM Resorts owns the MGM Grand and MGM Growth Properties owns Mandalay Bay.

MGM Resorts has lately been looking to sell its real estate assets under pressure from investors to shift to a business model of developing, managing, and operating gaming, hospitality, and entertainment properties. The company is also looking to branch out into other areas such as sports betting and in locations such as Japan, which legalized casino gambling in 2018.

“These announcements represent a key milestone in executing the company’s previously communicated asset-light strategy, one that enables a best-in-class balance sheet and strong free cash flow generation to provide MGM Resorts with meaningful strategic flexibility to create continued value for our shareholders,” MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said in a written statement.

The company has sold other properties in Vegas. It announced in October that it would sell the Bellagio casino resort, made famous by its lavish fountains, to a joint venture also with Blackstone for $4.25 billion. In December, it closed the sale of its Circus Circus property to Phil Ruffin, who also owns Treasure Island, for $825 million.

MGM Growth Properties (MGP) is a real estate investment trust that acquires, owns and leases large entertainment and leisure resorts. Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. (BREIT) has also been active in the buying and selling of prominent hospitality properties.

MGM Resorts still owns MGM Springfield in Massachusetts, 50 percent of the CityCenter casino resort and retail complex in Vegas and 55 percent of MGP.

“Our corporate objective remains crystal clear,” Murren said. “We will continue to monetize our owned real estate assets, which facilitates our strong focus on returning capital to our shareholders, while also retaining significant flexibility to pursue our visible growth initiatives, including Japan and sports betting.”

MGP will own 50.1 percent of the joint venture, and BREIT will own 49.9 percent.

“We are pleased to announce this partnership with BREIT, which illustrates the numerous opportunities available to grow our business and emphasizes the strong institutional demand for gaming real estate assets,” MGP CEO James Stewart said.

“This transaction reflects our continuing strong conviction in Las Vegas,” Blackstone President Jon Gray said. “We are pleased to once again partner with MGM Resorts, a world-class operator, as well as MGM Growth Properties.”

MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay have a total of 9,743 rooms, about three million square feet of meeting space and 300,000 square feet of casino space. It covers 226 acres of coveted real estate on the Las Vegas Strip.

Both properties are some of the largest and most popular on the Strip. Mandalay Bay was also the site from which a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers at an outdoor music festival in October 2017, killing 58 people.

This latest transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year.

UPDATED: This story was updated to include more context, and comments from the MGM Resorts CEO. 

[CORRECTION:] An earlier version of this story stated that MGM Resorts International agreed to sell the MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay to a new joint venture between MGM Growth Properties LLC and private equity giant Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust, Inc. MGM Resorts does not own Mandalay Bay and cannot sell it. MGM Resorts owns MGM Grand. MGM Growth Properties owns the Mandalay Bay. 

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Tags: blackstone, casino resorts, las vegas, mgm, mgm resorts

Photo credit: MGM Resorts International has agreed to sell the Mandalay Bay casino resort along with the MGM Grand, both in Las Vegas, to a joint venture including Blackstone. 284008 / 284008

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