Apollo casino deal is approved after bid lifted to US$1.9 billion

Apollo Global Management Inc. won shareholder approval for its US$1.9 billion takeover of Great Canadian Gaming Corp., sealing a deal that had faced stiff opposition until the private equity firm increased its bid by 15 per cent.

Holders of 79 per cent of the shares voted at a special meeting were in favor of the transaction, executives said on a webcast. That cleared the two-thirds hurdle needed for the deal to take effect. The acquisition is expected to close in the second quarter, but still needs regulatory approval.

Apollo’s initial bid of $39 a share hit immediate opposition after it was announced in November, and it wasn’t until the firm boosted the offer to $45 a share that holdout investors including CI Global Asset Management, BloombergSen Inc. and Burgundy Asset Management Ltd. agreed to support the deal. Great Canadian operates 26 gaming, entertainment and hospitality facilities across Canada.

BloombergSen is a Toronto-based hedge fund and isn’t affiliated with Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News.

Apollo has said it’s committed to maintaining Great Canadian’s current operations and even expects to increase its properties. The New York-based firm said it plans to drive growth by expanding non-gaming facilities, bolstering loyalty and marketing programs and improving the gaming operations.

Apollo previously has been involved in the gaming industry, including through the US$30.7 billion takeover of Caesars Entertainment, then known as Harrah’s, which was completed in 2008.

Great Canadian has struggled this year as the pandemic forced the suspension of operations at a number of its facilities. The company posted $67.9 million in net losses in its two most recent quarters. However, the firm’s operations have continued to generate cash throughout the pandemic.



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