Pinnacle, FTC reach agreement in principle

Pinnacle Entertainment reaches agreement in principle with FTC on proposed Ameristar buyout

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Pinnacle has reached an agreement in principle with federal regulators on the structure of its proposed acquisition of rival Ameristar Casinos Inc.

The agreement is still subject to the negotiation of a consent order, commission approval and regulatory gaming approvals.

The Federal Trade Commission's bureau of competition issued an administrative complaint last month, saying that the buyout could diminish competition in the Missouri and Louisiana casino markets.

Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. agreed to buy Ameristar in December for $869 million in deal that would more than double its size. If the sale goes through, it will also take on $1.9 billion of Ameristar's debt.

Since the complaint was filed, the two sides have made "significant progress" toward resolving the matter, Pinnacle said.

Pinnacle plans to sell Ameristar's casino hotel development project in Lake Charles, La. as well as its own Lumiere Place Casino, HoteLumiere and the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis.

CEO Anthony Sanfilippo said that the company hopes to complete acquisition as soon as possible in the third quarter.

Pinnacle owns seven U.S. casinos and a racetrack. It is also redeveloping a property in Cincinnati; owns a minority stake in Asian Coast Development (Canada) Ltd. and hold a majority interest in the racing license owner and management contract for Retama Park Racetrack outside San Antonio, Texas. Ameristar has eight casinos in the United States.

Pinnacle has casinos in Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana. Ameristar's holdings include casinos in Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Indiana and Nevada.

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