MGM Resorts International (NYSE: MGM) once again is busy on the Las Vegas Strip. The firm has announced a 50 percent acquisition of CityCenter and is also selling its Aria and Vdara assets.
MGM is paying $2.12 billion to Infinity World Development for 50 percent of CityCenter. The value of the complex will soar to $5.8 billion. The sale of Aria and Vdara to Blackstone will fetch MGM $3.89 billion in cash.
The sale has been acclaimed as a stunning move. James Harris, Helmsley Spear senior managing director, says the Blackstone and Vdara and Aria sale is a complete surprise. Before the pandemic, MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle expressed no interest in selling the two venues at what appears as a bargained price.
According to gaming analysts, Las Vegas is currently recovering from the pandemic, and the timing and the pricing of Aria and Vdara are debatable. In May, the gross gaming revenue hit a record high figures according to Nevada Gaming Control Board. However, the gaming industry is not yet fully recovered in Sin City.
Some operators expected to sell Strip properties this year seems to be opting out of such a move. Though it is not a direct comparison, the $3.89 billion MGM is getting for the sale of Aria and Vdara is less than the $4.25 billion it sold Bellagio in 2019. It is also less than the $4.6 billion it parted with Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand in 20202.
MGM’s long-standing asset-light strategy has a difference of $1.7 billion between what it is paying for CityCenter and what it is receiving for Aria and Vdara. The Aria and Vdara sale will close in the third quarter, and Blackstone will own the two venues.