OWNER OF REGENT-LAS VEGAS PARENT TO STEP AWAY

Friday, 9th March 2001 

By JEFF SIMPSON
lasvegas.com GAMING WIRE

    The owner of the Regent Las Vegas has agreed to sell a majority stake in his Swiss Casinos Holding AG company and has written off his $275 million investment in the bankrupt Summerlin property.
    John Tipton, Swiss Casinos of America's president and chief executive officer, said Friday that Swiss resident Hans Jecklin agreed within the past month to sell 55 percent of the company to Swiss businessman Hans Rihs.
    Tipton said he did not know how much Rihs will pay for the majority interest in the holding company.
    Rihs serves on the board of Switzerland-based hearing aid producer Phonak Holding AG's and is the firm's largest individual shareholder, controlling 18.1 percent of the company's equity.
    A spokeswoman at Phonak's Illinois offices said the company is one of the five biggest
hearing aid producers in the world.
    Tipton said the sale of the Swiss Casinos Holding interest is contingent upon Nevada Gaming Control Board approval. The holding company is licensed by state regulators as the Regent's parent company.
    Tipton said that Jecklin has written off his $275 million investment in the Regent.
    "From a dollar standpoint, Mr. Jecklin doesn't expect to receive anything (when the Regent is eventually sold)," Tipton said.
    Jecklin was unavailable for comment Friday.

    Jecklin's family owns 100 percent of Swiss Casinos Holdings, which owns 91 percent of Swiss Casinos of America.
    The Jecklins will continue to own 45 percent of Swiss Casinos Holdings if the deal is
consummated. The company is Switzerland's biggest casino operator.
    In addition to owning the Regent, Swiss Casinos of America manages a North Dakota tribal casino, Prairie Knights, about 45 miles south of Bismarck.
    Swiss Casino Holdings owns a third subsidiary, which operates smaller gambling halls in Great Britain and the Netherlands.
    A source familiar with Swiss Casinos' U.S. operations said that Jecklin's stock sale is
likely intended to raise money for the company to build American-style casinos in Switzerland.
    "Rihs has a lot of money, and Jecklin wants to raise capital for his plans in Switzerland,"
said the source, who requested anonymity.

    The Regent Las Vegas opened in July 1999 as The Resort at Summerlin after a series of construction delays. Many of the property's restaurants and rooms, along with its health spa, pool and convention center were unfinished at the time.
    Its business plan of targeting upscale spa and golf-resort vacationers failed to attract
enough business, particularly to the casino. Its mix of gaming devices didn't appeal to local
Las Vegas gamblers, who prefer video poker to The Resort's traditional spinning-reel slot
machines.
    The Regent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Nov. 21, and the case is working its way through the bankruptcy process.
   Chapter 11 is the most common form of bankruptcy and frees a company from the threat of creditors' lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances.
    The property is currently operating under a $20 million interim financing plan approved by its creditors and is being shopped to potential buyers.
    The interim financing was provided by a group primarily composed of the hotel-casino's first mortgage note-holders, a group which is owed about $90 million of the more than $300 million The Regent owes creditors.

    The property's management changed the prices and hours at the property's buffet, opened a 24-hour coffee shop and a poker room, and has more aggressively targeted local residents with lower minimums on table games and additional video poker machines.
    Swiss Casinos AG hopes to expand its dominance in its home market when Swiss law allows existing the country's smaller "Kursaal" spa casinos to be replaced by American-style "grand casinos."
    The country's 21 Kursaals are each allowed 200 slot machines and a mini-roulette-style game called "boule."
    The Kursaals generate Europe's second-highest gross gaming revenue per-inhabitant per-year, just behind the casinos of Greece.
    Swiss Casinos has applied for government issued licenses for as many as eight new grand casinos that would offer a full range of table games and slot machines. They would offer linked jackpots, like International Game Technology's Megabucks slot game. 
   Swiss Casinos AG hopes to win several of the licenses to operate grand casinos.
   "We expect to generate more than 50 percent of total Swiss gaming revenue once the new casinos open," Jecklin explained in June.
   The Swiss government could issue casino licenses for the projects by the end of the year.
 

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