MGM Resorts Sells National Harbor To Subsidiary With Share Buyback

September 7, 2017 by Paul Butcher

MGM National HarborMGM Resorts International has sold its new casino MGM National Harbor in Maryland to a subsidiary firm MGM Growth Properties (MGP).

The subsidiary was formed in 2015 to act as a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) and holds several MGM properties such as the Mirage, Mandalay Bay, Monte Carlo, Excalibur Luxor and New York – New York in Las Vegas, the Borgata in Atlantic City and MGM Grand Detroit.

MGM Resorts said in its announcement that it was selling the property to MGP for $1.1875 billion. After the transfer, the Maryland casino will be added to the existing master lease agreement which includes other MGM properties owned by the trust. MGM Resorts stated that the rent payment made to MGP will go up by $95 million and will grow contractually at 2 percent per year until 2022.

In a statement Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International said

MGM National Harbor has exhibited strong financial performance and has already secured its place as the leading resort in its market. We will continue to support MGP as it drives future growth through the expansion of its quality asset portfolio

The $1.2 billion MGM National Harbor casino which opened late last year is now Maryland’s top-earning gaming property. It includes a 308-room hotel and a gambling floor spread across 125,000 square feet. Under the agreement, the REIT will take over the leasehold interest as well as the physical resort for $462.5 million in cash, along with a debt of $425 million related to the construction of the property and $300 million in MGM Growth Properties which operate partnership units.

MGM Resorts will continue handling the management of the property and customers are not likely to see any changes. The deal will allow MGM Resorts to clear out the debt related to the property’s construction from its books and free its cash flow. According to the latest annual report, MGM Growth Properties earned nearly $650 million in 2016 by way of rental revenue from MGM Resorts. MGM Resorts currently holds a 76 percent stake in the operating partnership of MGP.

In a related announcement MGM Resorts said it was launching a $1 billion stock buyback program. Under a buyback program, a company buys back its stock from investors which serves as a way to share its revenue earnings with the stockholders. The MGM buyback program is expected take place in the fourth quarter of this year and is subject to regulatory approvals.