Fertitta’s Golden Nugget Casinos to Go Public Again Through SPAC Merger

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Tilman Entertainment, Inc. announced Monday to take Golden Nugget public again through a merger agreement with FAST Acquisition Corp. The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) values the Tilman Fertitta-owned business at $6.6 billion. SPAC, also called black-check companies, are empty shell entities that raise money to acquire an existing business that then takes over its stock listing.

Billionaire investor Fertitta, who also owns the Houston Rockets basketball team, has agreed to sell 40% of the Golden Nugget/Landry’s to the US-based FAST Acquisition Corp. Under the agreement, which also includes Landry’s restaurants, Fertitta said taking the company public is beneficial for taking advantage of opportunities for acquisitions amid the pandemic. He said he wants to do big gaming deals. “Thirty years ago, gambling was restricted in just two states. Now we’re approving new states for digital (gambling) almost on a weekly basis.”

What Changes Will Happen?

Tilman Fertitta, the sole owner of Fertitta Entertainment, will continue to lead the Golden Nugget/Landry’s business as the Chairman, President and CEO of the company, which consists of five casinos and 600 restaurants, including the Del Frisco’s steakhouse chains, Morton’s Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The Rockets, purchased by Fertitta for $2.2 billion in 2017, are not part of the deal.

According to a press release, Fertitta will remain to be the largest shareholder with 60% interest in the company stock, valued at approximately $2 billion. The Texas-based businessman will also control the majority of the vote via a special class of stock. No drastic changes involving management are expected as the current Golden Nugget/Landry’s management team will continue unperturbed.

While looking forward to returning to his company to the public marketplace, Fertitta said the company accomplished a lot after taking it private in 2010. “However, in today’s opportunistic world, … in order to maximize the opportunities in the entertainment, gaming, and hospitality sectors, it was preferable to take my company public.” He added, “After I compared the opportunities by a transaction with FAST, against the traditional IPO route, it became amply clear that we could access the capital markets with more certainty and speed if we had a deal with FAST.”

Perfect Merger

Fertitta said that his company first began to explore going public in 2019, adding that pandemic pushed those efforts back. However, he said FAST provided them with the perfect merger vehicle to enable them to take control of an already existing public company. The billionaire added that FAST’s capital along with the equity investment from shareholders will bolster the company’s balance sheet, allowing the company to pursue its acquisition strategy. Fertitta is expected to make more acquisitions from the proceeds.

FAST Acquisition Corp. is co-headed by Sandy Beall and Doug Jacob. Jacob said the hospitality industry experienced the unprecedented disruption of their lifetimes, adding that Fertitta and Co. remained the premiere gaming and restaurant operators in the US. The FAST co-owner said they believe the diverse portfolio will find continued success as a public company. FAST Acquisition shares were marked nearly 31% higher in pre-market trading, reflecting an opening bell price of $13.90 each.

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