Shares of Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN) jumped to the highest they’ve been since the company went public almost two decades ago, after Thursday’s announcement that the company will split up. A spokesperson says the company will divide into two companies and put most of its properties into a real estate investment trust (REIT).
At least 17 of Penn National’s properties will be placed into the nation’s first REIT that’s focused on casinos. Most of the company’s race tracks and casinos will continue to be operated by Penn National. Investors will receive a $5.35 dividend per share plus stock in the newly formed REIT. Analysts say other casino operators could follow in Penn National’s footsteps.
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Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN) executives told Bloomberg Business that by splitting into two separate companies, their cost of capital will decrease. REITs don’t pay income taxes at the federal level and must distribute the greatest majority of their taxable income to their shareholders. In addition, company executives say the company might be able to get around regulatory laws that put a limit on how many casinos one company can run in certain states.
Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN) will pay approximately $450 million to the REIT every year for renting the properties. The company’s plan to split up must still be approved by industry regulators, although the Internal Revenue Service has sent Penn a ruling in a private letter. If industry regulators approve the split, the company’s split is expected to happen in the latter part of next year, and the REIT will become effective the following January.
Peter Carlino, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN), will continue be in those positions for the REIT. He will also continue to be the chairman of Penn National. Chief Operating Officer Tim Wilmott will become the company’s CEO. Bloomberg Business also reports that Penn’s chief financial officer, Bill Clifford, says he will continue to hold that position at one of the two new companies, after they refinance all of Penn’s debt next year.
Penn National Gaming, Inc (NASDAQ:PENN) shares aren’t the only ones benefiting from the company’s news. While Penn National’s stock jumped at least 30 percent after investors heard the news, shares of other casino operators are also surging this afternoon on the news. Ameristar stock was among the largest gainer other than Penn. Its shares jumped at least 13 percent this afternoon on the NASDAQ. MGM Resorts International shares were also up a bit.