MGM Resorts International (MGM) sold two of its Las Vegas Strip casino properties earlier this month and made it clear on Wednesday that they aren’t done yet.
Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren confirmed on a conference call that the casino giant is looking to sell its flagship property, MGM Grand, before the end of the calendar year. Murren said that the company will use the profits from the sale to reduce debt, invest in a $10 billion Japan casino, and further their sports betting operations in the U.S.
The confirmation comes just a couple weeks after MGM sold Bellagio to the Blackstone Group for $4.25 billion and Circus Circus to Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin for $825 million.
The company is in the process of transitioning its business model to an “asset-light” strategy that is centered around managing and operating businesses, as opposed to investing capital into expensive real estate.
While Ruffin acquired the entire Circus Circus operation, the Bellagio deal was just for the real estate. MGM Resorts still operates the casino, but leases the land and building from Blackstone. MGM is looking for a similar deal with MGM Grand.
“This potential transaction would be a sale of only the real estate, like the deal with Bellagio,” MGM spokesman Brian Ahern said in a statement. “There would be no changes to management or operations, and MGM would continue to manage and operate the property.”
It has been rumored that Blackstone showed interest in acquiring the MGM Grand as well, but it might be competing against MGM’s own real estate investment trust.
In 2016, MGM created an REIT called MGM Growth Properties (MGP). The trust has been buying up some of MGM’s real estate around the country.
It currently has a stake in 10 of MGM’s resorts, including the Borgata in Atlantic City, which it bought from MGM for $1.2 billion and leased it back to its parent company for $100 million per year. A similar transaction happened earlier this year when MGM purchased Empire City Casino in New York. The company sold it to MGP and leased it back.
The REIT is a likely candidate to purchase MGM Grand. If competing offers for the property are close, Murren said he will lean towards selling it to MGP.
“If it came down to a transaction between a third party and MGP, we’re always going to favor MGP in a close race,” said Murren.