BURNABY, BC – Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited (“Gateway”), one of the largest and most diversified gaming and entertainment companies in Canada, announced today that in December 2017 it entered into an agreement for the sale and leaseback of certain real estate properties (the “Sale-Leaseback”) in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, including the Grand Villa Casino Burnaby, Starlight Casino New Westminster and Cascades Casino Langley. The transaction has now received regulatory approvals with the British Columbia regulators.
Under the agreement, Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback, Inc. (“MRSL” or affiliates thereof), the net-lease real estate investment arm of Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm headquartered in Chicago, will become the landlord for the three properties for a purchase price in excess of $500 million and delivering net proceeds of $483 million to Gateway. Certain of Gateway’s wholly owned subsidiaries have entered into long term leases for each of the properties and will continue to operate the casinos under the leases, offering the same exceptional customer experience with no expected changes to employees or operations at these locations. Following the close of the Sale-Leaseback, the company will continue to hold a real estate portfolio with a book value of over $200 million and continues to evaluate real estate investment opportunities in and around its operations.
“Gateway is unmatched in the industry when it comes to the quality of its assets and strategy, strength of its financial performance and, just as importantly, the operational excellence of its management team,” said Gabriel de Alba, Gateway’s Executive Chairman. “We have dramatically changed Gateway’s performance profile, positioned it to reduce debt and expanded both the company’s top and bottom line, giving it significant opportunities for growth and a high return on capital. With strong future cash flow generation and other strategic opportunities to unlock value, Gateway is extremely well positioned to execute on its corporate strategy and deliver outstanding results over the long-term.”
“This traditional real estate transaction unlocks significant value and generates cash which the company will use to reduce debt, invest in Gateway’s growth, support new developments and job creation, and deliver value to our stakeholders,” said Tony Santo, Gateway’s Chief Executive Officer. “With robust growth, sophisticated operations and excellent customer service at our properties across the country, Gateway has established itself as the leading gaming and entertainment operator in Canada. We look forward to continuing to advance our operations and to build new community partnerships as we execute on our growth plans.”
With 25 properties – up from 12 in 2015 – Gateway has significantly expanded its footprint and portfolio. Through this growth, Gateway’s pro forma annual revenues, EBITDA and Free Cash Flow for the 12 months ended September 30, 2017, were approximately $590 million, $156 million, and $139 million, respectively. Over the same period, the Company has diversified and expanded its product offering, including developing proprietary casino and restaurant brands, which has increased its operating performance and real estate value. This multi-pronged growth strategy has resulted in strong, diversified revenue growth, expanded margins and robust free cash flow, along with improved guest experiences. In addition to its strong organic growth, Gateway’s current strategic opportunities include a $57 million rebrand and renovation of the Palace Casino at the West Edmonton Mall to Starlight Casino Edmonton, a proposed $70 million local entertainment destination in Delta, renovations and rebranding at Kelowna, Chances Campbell River and Chances Courtenay, and the first Gateway redevelopment in Point Edward, Ontario, to be rebranded Starlight Casino Point Edward.
Mesirow Financial’s Sale-Leaseback Capital group arranged for the purchase of the three Gateway properties. The acquisition financing is being structured in collaboration with Mesirow Financial’s Credit Tenant Lease (CTL), as well as its Institutional Sales and Trading division.
Doug Barker, Senior Managing Director of Mesirow Financial, stated, “After having closed more than US$1.5 billion in sale-leaseback transactions in the last two years, we are excited to be closing on Mesirow Realty Sale-Leaseback’s first cross-border transaction monetizing these three exceptional and strategic assets. We look forward to partnering and forging new relationships with both Gateway and The Catalyst Capital Group Inc.”
“This transaction once again signifies the strong collaboration between our capital markets businesses. We continue to enhance our full-service platform in acquiring single-tenant properties, now internationally, complemented by our strong capabilities in debt placement,” said Dominick Mondi, President of Mesirow Financial and of its Capital Markets Division.
The Sale-Leaseback transaction is expected to close in the first half of March, subject to final documentation and customary closing conditions.
Bennett Jones LLP and Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal counsel to Gateway. Colliers International, Capital Markets Group, also advised Gateway on the transaction. MRSL is being principally represented by Goldberg Kohn and Boughton Law Corporation served as Canadian counsel. Quantum Global LLC also advised the buyer on the transaction.