Viva Private Equity: Planning A PE-Backed Trip To Las Vegas

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So you’re going to Las Vegas. And for whatever reason, you only want to interact with companies backed by private equity firms. We’ve got you covered.

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Everywhere you look, there’s a PE owner. Whether you’re traveling or eating out, getting a massage or watching acrobats swoop through the air, the tendrils of private equity are likely lurking. To demonstrate, here’s an outline for a two-day trip to Sin City in which nearly every cent you spend would go to a company with PE backing.

On the move

How to get from here to there? If you live in Los Angeles or elsewhere in the US Southwest, perhaps you rent your ride: Advantage Rent A Car, which is backed by Catalyst Capital Group, would be one option.

A flight is probably more likely, though. Those who’ve planned ahead—or perhaps those traveling on the company dime—could opt for Executive Airshare, the provider of a timeshare-style service for charter planes that was recapitalized by Curran Companies last year.

Flying commercial? A heavily consolidated industry means most major US airlines are publicly traded, but we’ve got a way around that. If you’re traveling on American Airlines, United, Air Canada or Southwest, among others, there’s a chance you’ll be in a plane owned by AerCap. One of the largest lessors of aircraft in the world, AerCap is a former portfolio company of Cerberus Capital Management and is now partially backed by Waha Capital.

On the Strip

You’re walking into the terminal at McCarran International Airport. You can already see the slot machines. Where are you going, and how are you getting there?

How about The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, centrally located on the west side of the Strip, a location Blackstone acquired three years ago for a reported $1.7 billion. A more low-key option: the Silver Sevens Hotel & Casino, a property owned by Affinity Gaming, which was acquired by Z Capital in a $580 million SBO earlier this year.

As for getting around town, that one’s easy. If it’s too far to walk, just dial up an Uber—the ridehailing company's PE backers include Ace & Company and TPG Growth—or perhaps enlist some assistance from Lyft, which has received prior funding from KKR.

You check in, catch your breath, and head down to meet a friend or co-worker for a few hours at the tables. When the losses start piling up, you decide to grab a bite—and after that hit to your wallet, maybe something on the cheaper side would be a good idea.

The options are nearly endless. Two minutes away from the Silver Sevens is one of the several Las Vegas locations of Panera Bread; BDT Capital Partners and JAB purchased the soup-and-sandwich chain for $7.5 billion earlier this year. Straight across the street from the Cosmopolitan is a P.F. Chang’s, which is owned by Centerbridge Partners and Quilvest Private Equity. Also nearby, of course, is a Benihana. Get your fill of sushi, steak and sake at a company that was acquired by Angelo Gordon & Co. via take-private buyout in 2012.

Other possibilities include Carl’s Jr., Arby’s or Jimmy John’s (all backed by Roark Capital Group); California Pizza Kitchen (Golden Gate Capital); TGI Friday’s (Sentinel Capital Partners ); Cici’s Pizza (Arlon Group and Cohesive Capital Partners) … you get the idea.

When it comes to the nightlife, fans of electronic music have an easy choice. Hail an Uber to Hakkasan Nightclub at the MGM Grand, the Las Vegas location of the world-famous Hakkasan chain of restaurants, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (and which has been the subject of recent merger rumors). On the calendar to perform various nights this month: Tiesto, Steve Aoki, Kaskade and Lil Jon.

If you prefer something a little more laid back, head to one of the several casinos on the Strip offering shows by Cirque du Soleil, a producer of acrobatic performances that was acquired two years ago by an investment group including TPG Capital. Among Cirque du Soleil’s current Vegas offerings: A Beatles-themed show at The Mirage and a Michael Jackson-inspired performance at Mandalay Bay.

If your overloaded senses have survived, now it’s back to the hotel to finally catch some Zs.

On the rebound

After smashing snooze a time or two, you roll out of bed, crack those blackout blinds and squint your eyes at the rays of sunshine streaming in. Luckily, Las Vegas is home to six Krispy Kreme locations to satisfy all your coffee and donut needs. The company was acquired last summer by BDT Capital Partners and JAB for $1.35 billion.

Need to start working off last night instead? The gym in your private equity-backed hotel could do the trick, but if you feel like getting out and about, there are plenty of other options. 24 Hour Fitness has been backed by PE since 2014, when it was acquired by a consortium that includes AEA Investors and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. Also in town is Life Time Fitness, another operator of health clubs with private equity backing; TPG Capital and Leonard Green Partners bought the business for more than $4 billion in 2015.

If your morning requires a more relaxed form of recovery, there’s no need to worry. The professionals at Massage Envy can take care of you from any of their 10-plus locations in Las Vegas. Like several other companies already mentioned, the massage therapists are backed by Roark Capital Group, with Ares Capital acting as a co-investor.

Soon your trip is over, and it's back to the airport in a PE-backed car, onto a PE-backed plane (maybe with some fast food from a PE-backed restaurant), and into the friendly skies—until next time.

Article by Kevin Dowd, PitchBook

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