A key feature of the Red Rock IPO is the use of proceeds, plus additional debt, to acquire Fertitta Entertainment for $460 million in a related-party transaction. Investors should ask the company how it arrived at and agreed to this price.
First of all, here is some perspective on the price tag of this insider deal. $460 million equals:
- 93% of the estimated IPO net proceeds of $495.9 million (assuming the mid-point of the offering price range and that the underwriters do not exercise their options to purchase additional shares)
- 20% of the IPO valuation of Station Casinos’ equity of $2.26 billion (with the same assumptions as above)
- 8.7 times Fertitta Entertainment’s 2015 management fee revenue from Station Casinos
- 31 times Fertitta Entertainment’s 2015 pro forma EBITDA of $14.8 million (which we calculated by comparing the financials of the consolidated Station Holdco LLC and Station Casinos)
In addition, we believe prospective investors should ask Red Rock management the following questions:
- Is Red Rock projecting $34 million of incremental annual EBITDA and therefore only $18 million in annual corporate expenses on a going-forward basis after buying Fertitta Entertainment and internalizing management?
- If yes, does that projection include potential equity-based compensation expenses?
- And what is the plan to keep corporate expenses at $18 million a year for 13.5 years?
Even though the company’s IPO prospectus filings do not describe any specific financial benefits of the Fertitta Entertainment acquisition, Red Rock management explained the valuation basis of the Fertitta Entertainment deal what they presented to Nevada gaming regulators on January 21. During the special meeting of the Nevada Gaming Control Board meeting to approve the IPO, CFO Marc Falcone said:
With the transaction and the acquisition of Fertitta Entertainment, we actually improve, EBITDA will go up by $34 million, approximately. So we are basically taking the management fees that were historically paid to Fertitta Entertainment, those now will remain within Red Rock Resorts, Inc., and Station Casinos LLC. We are also adding back some expenses that related to salaries and wages for the employees that are currently employed at the Fertitta Entertainment level that will now be employed at the Station Casinos LLC level [emphasis added].*
That is, the company believes that internalizing Fertitta Entertainment would lead to incremental annual EBITDA of $34 million because that’s the amount it would “save” by (1) not paying out management fees ($52 million in 2015) anymore but (2) paying corporate expenses covering its executives and corporate employees directly, who are currently employed and paid by Fertitta Entertainment. If $34 million incremental EBITDA is the basis for the $460 million price, a 13.5x multiple was used. It thus appears the company has agreed to transfer 13.5 years of potential EBITDA “savings” as an immediate lump-sum cash payment to the owners of Fertitta Entertainment as part of the IPO.
Mr. Falcone’s statement implies that the company is expecting to pay only $18 million a year in corporate expenses going forward ($52 million minus $34 million). Is $18 million in corporate expenses a realistic number for a company the size of Red Rock/Station Casinos?
Let’s consider what Station Casinos used to do when it was a publicly-traded company. In the last three full years when it was a publicly-traded company before the disastrous insider-led leveraged buyout of 2007, the company paid on average about 4.9% of its net revenues out as corporate expenses.
|Corporate expenses as % of net revenues||4.8%||5.2%||4.7%|
In 2015, Station Casinos had net revenues of $1.35 billion. If it had paid its own corporate expenses at a level like it used to during the three-period listed above, it would have spent $61 million in corporate expenses. We believe it would be unrealistic to expect to pay only $18 million in corporate expenses after Red Rock internalizes Fertitta Entertainment.
Another concern investors should be aware of is how the company accounts for equity-based compensation. According to section 3.08 of the disclosure schedule of the execution copy of the Fertitta Entertainment purchase agreement (filed as Exhibit 10.10 in Red Rock’s 2/12/16 S-1/A):
With respect to [Fertitta Entertainment LLC’s] consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and for the six months ended June 30, 2015, the Company did not record share-based compensation expense associated with equity incentives issued to current and former executives of the Company from FI Station Investor LLC. FI Station Investor LLC is an entity that is owned by the parent entities of the Company. Pursuant to GAAP, this non-cash share-based compensation is required to be recorded as a component of the Company’s statement of operations since these executives were employees of the Company and FI Station Investor LLC is a common-controlled entity of the Company’s equity holders. The Company’s auditor, Ernst & Young LLP, has determined that each of the foregoing financial statements would require to be restated and has withdrawn its opinions for each audit period that are dated March 25, 2015, May 14, 2014, April 16, 2013 and May 15, 2012, respectively.
This disclosure should lead investors to ask whether Station Casinos has an accurate handle on historical, current and projected costs of equity-based compensation, which could be an expensive component of cost for any company. (We have sent a letter to the SEC asking some other questions based on this disclosure, too.)
* The transcript of the Jan. 21, 2016, special meeting of the Nevada Gaming Control Board can be ordered by calling Sunshine Litigation Services at 775-323-3411. The quote is from pp. 32-33.
See more of our analysis of the Red Rock Resorts/Station Casinos IPO:
- Download our unauthorized roadshow presentation, “Red Rock Resorts: A Second-Class IPO” here.
- The insiders are cashing out at a high price compared to the company’s estimated equity.
- Growth concerns in the company’s primary Las Vegas locals market and the lack of new development agreements in the tribal gaming market.
- The tax receivable agreement could drain substantial amount of cash out of the company and affect free cash flow.
- The dual-class structure will make public investors second-class shareholders.
- The lack of disclosure regarding the regulatory problems of Deutsche Bank, a 25% current owner.