ATLANTIC CITY - The state conservator overseeing the sale of Tropicana Casino and Resort is asking for another 30 days to wrap up a deal with a group of buyers led by billionaire investor Carl C. Icahn.
Gary S. Stein says one more month is needed for final regulatory approval of a newly restructured purchase agreement that would save the buyers from a big tax bill if they resell Tropicana a few years from now.
The New Jersey Casino Control Commission will consider Stein's request at its board meeting Wednesday. If granted, it would be the 10th deadline extension since Tropicana went on the market in December 2007. The latest deadline calls for Tropicana to be sold by Dec. 31, but Stein wants to push back the date to Jan. 31, 2010.
"We're getting everything finalized. The commission will consider the request at the meeting," spokesman Daniel Heneghan said.
The commission placed Stein in charge of Tropicana after the previous owners were stripped of their New Jersey gaming license Dec. 12, 2007, following mass layoffs, declining revenue and regulatory violations.
Stein's efforts to find a new buyer were hindered by the recession, legal battles and the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization of the casino's former parent company. Icahn and fellow lenders who hold a $1.4 billion mortgage on Tropicana agreed to buy the casino hotel for $200 million in a bankruptcy auction in June.
However, the sale still must formally close before the Icahn group takes over. For that to happen, Tropicana must complete a federal Securities and Exchange Commission filing for new stock that is part of a restructured sale agreement, Stein said. The new agreement would give the buyers protection from a huge tax liability if they decide to resell the casino in a few years.
Tropicana's new owners also must secure a gaming license in New Jersey and other states in which they operate casinos. Gaming approvals have already been granted in Mississippi, with Indiana, New Jersey, Louisiana and Nevada expected to follow in December or January, Stein said in papers seeking the sale extension.
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