There's a great story (maybe apocryphal) about how the L.A. billionaire wound up with the property that became the site of the Las Vegas Hilton. Back in the 1960s, so the tale goes, Kerkorian and real estate mogul Marvin Kratter were flying in their respective private planes somewhere over the Strip when Kerkorian spotted a big chunk of land behind the Sahara Hotel. "Nice piece of land," Kirk radioed Kratter. "How much?" The two guys supposedly did the deal right then, or at least that's how Vegas columnist Phil Hevener heard it. Point is, there was a time when Kerkorian used Vegas as his personal craps table. Now, he seems to be cashing out. The L.A. billionaire sold off 20 million shares of MGM Resorts stock for around $215 million, lowering his stake in the resort and casino company to 22 percent from 27 percent. Thing is, he held a majority stake only a few years ago when his investment firm sold off much of its holding as part of a stock offering. From Bloomberg:
Kerkorian is "raising cash to have fun with it," MGM Resorts Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said in a phone interview. "His two passions in life are philanthropy and investing, and you have to have cash to invest cash."
Business in Vegas has held up reasonably well, but Motley Fool's Travis Hoium is not encouraged:
If the U.S. economy does take a turn for the worse, as the market fears, MGM will be the hardest hit. Most of MGM's revenue still comes from Las Vegas, and if we remember what happened to gaming, room rates, and earnings during the last recession, the damage wouldn't be pretty.