Hotel Online Special Report Two 34 Year Old Internet Millionaires Acquiring Golden Nugget Hotel-Casinos in Downtown Las Vegas and Laughlin for Approximately $215 million Poster Financial Group Seeks to Revive “Old Vegas” Era of Personalized Service
LAS VEGAS – June 26, 2003 — Hoping to revive Las Vegas’ “glory days” of individual casino ownership and personalized service, Timothy Poster and Thomas Breitling, the entrepreneurs who founded the revolutionary travel website Travelscape.com, today announced their plans to purchase the Golden Nugget hotel-casinos in downtown Las Vegas and Laughlin, Nevada, from MGM MIRAGE (NYSE: MGG) for approximately $215 million. Poster and Breitling are the founders of Poster Financial Group, Inc. (PFG), which they are using as a vehicle to enter the Las Vegas casino market.
“Today, almost all of the casinos in Las Vegas are owned and operated by large corporations and many have lost the individual personality that scores of loyal visitors, particularly dedicated players, find so attractive and exciting,” said Poster, PFG’s Chairman and CEO. “We want to revive that bygone Vegas feel and make the Golden Nugget properties the first choice of visitors who long for that traditional Las Vegas experience.”
“The Golden Nugget brand is among the most well known in gaming, and we intend to capitalize on this reputation and maintain the high level of customer service that these properties are known for,” continued Poster. “Through heightened emphasis on customer service and as owner-operators who will have more time to focus on improving operations, we believe we can attract the type of customers that were previously directed to Las Vegas Strip properties.”
Before establishing PFG, Poster and Breitling launched a Las Vegas-based hotel reservation business that evolved into Travelscape.com. Poster and Breitling eventually sold Travelscape.com to Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE) in 2000. Today, Expedia remains the number one source of Las Vegas hotel bookings and vacation packages. This venture provided Poster and Breitling with extensive experience in the Las Vegas hospitality sector, particularly in understanding how to meet customer needs for value and quality and how to drive occupancy to area hotels.
“The Golden Nugget properties are extremely attractive investment opportunities and we are very excited about entering the gaming industry. We are firm believers in the continued strength, stability and growth potential of the Nevada tourist market, and downtown Las Vegas specifically. We feel confident that our experience at Travelscape and Expedia, where we brought millions of customers to Las Vegas hotels, will significantly benefit the Golden Nugget,” said Breitling, PFG’s President.
“The Golden Nugget has done a great job throughout its history of filling rooms with high quality customers and we believe that by combining an old-fashioned way of dealing with people with the efficiencies of modern technology for room distribution, we will be able to improve upon this track record,” continued Breitling. “We will also capitalize on the investments made by MGM MIRAGE into renovations and refurbishments and use a more targeted approach to marketing to further drive growth.”
The current management team of the Golden Nugget properties, President Maurice Wooden, Chief Financial Officer Dawn Allen and VP, General Counsel Joanne Beckett are expected to join PFG as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer and VP, General Counsel, respectively. Andre Carrier is expected to remain with PFG as the President of the Golden Nugget in Laughlin and Patrick Wisnicky is expected to remain as the Chief Financial Officer of the Laughlin property. Poster and Breitling have no immediate plans to change the hotels’ theme or decor, maintaining the long-standing appeal of both properties to their respective customers.
The acquisition of both Golden Nugget properties is being funded in part by PFG, which has received a financing commitment from Lehman Brothers, subject to customary conditions. Lehman Brothers acted as the exclusive financial advisor to PFG on the acquisition. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals, including from the Nevada gaming authorities, and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.
About the Golden Nugget Properties The Golden Nugget Las Vegas is the leading Downtown hotel-casino and the largest in terms of guestrooms. The property occupies 7.5 acres in Downtown and is part of the Fremont Street Experience entertainment attraction developed to draw visitors to the area. It is a four-star property and the most luxurious in Downtown, benefiting from over $30 million in renovations in 2001 and 2002. The hotel has 1,907 guest rooms, all of which were completely renovated over the past two years, a 36,000 square foot casino space containing approximately 1,260 slot machines and approximately 58 gaming tables and 29,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space. The property also includes a new restaurant and has undergone additional improvements throughout the hotel and casino.
The Golden Nugget Laughlin, a 300-room property on 13 acres, has 600 feet of Colorado River frontage near the center of the tourist strip in Laughlin, Nev., about 90 miles from downtown Las Vegas in southern Clark County. The property’s 32,000 square foot casino features more than 1,100 slot machines and approximately 12 gaming tables, a variety of restaurants and bars, a nightclub, and retail shops.
About Timothy Poster and Thomas Breitling Timothy Poster, 34, and Thomas Breitling, 34, are the founders of Poster Financial Group, Inc., a private investment firm focusing on hospitality investments in the Las Vegas area and currently serve as the Chairman and CEO, and President, Treasurer and Secretary, respectively. Previously, Poster served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Travelscape.com, Inc., from March 1998 through March 2000. Breitling previously founded Breitling Ventures, an investment firm and served as the President of Travelscape, Inc. from March 2000 to December 2001. Since January 2003, Breitling has served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Insomnia Entertainment, an independent film company. Poster and Breitling co-founded Travelscape.com and sold the company to Expedia in March of 2000.
In 1990, Poster founded Las Vegas Reservation Systems, Inc. (LVRS), the precursor of Travelscape.com, and served as its President until he co-founded Travelscape.com with Breitling in March 1998 to realize his vision of tapping into the growing online travel industry. While at LVRS and Travelscape.com, Poster was responsible for the overall direction of the company and provided its leadership and vision. In 1993, Breitling joined LVRS as Vice President. While at LVRS and Travelscape.com, Breitling was responsible for the overall strategic growth of the company. At Travelscape, Poster and Breitling managed over 400 employees and applied their industry knowledge to providing consumers with a simple, easy-to-use solution for all of their travel needs, with a special focus on hotel and vacation package reservations. Poster and Breitling propelled Travelscape.com’s sales to $104 million in 1999, from just $800,000 in sales in 1990.
Poster and Breitling revolutionized the travel industry by creating the “merchant model” for hotel and vacation packages reservations. Together, they turned the company into one of the largest consumer-direct hotel room wholesale distribution systems throughout the world. Breitling and Poster oversaw the acquisition of the company by Expedia, Inc., which made Expedia.com the largest online provider of hotel rooms and vacation packages. Breitling has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Expedia, Inc. since February 2002.
Poster previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of Station Casinos since 2001, but has stepped down as a member of the board as a result of this transaction. Poster was named “E Leader of the Year” by the Internet Business Alliance of Nevada in 2001. Poster and Breitling were both inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame by Internet Business Alliance of Nevada in 1999.
Breitling and Poster both serve on the Capital Campaign Committee for the Andre Agassi College preparatory academy, a model charter school whose goal is to offer academic programs designed to enhance a child’s character, respect, motivation, and self-discipline. Breitling is an honorary commander for the Nellis Support Team with Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas: Brown & Partners Dana Pretner / Tom Bradley Jr. 702/967-2222 Also See Barrick Gaming Corp. Plans to Acquire Six Hotels in Downtown Las Vegas for $82 million / Dec 2002