MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) announced late Tuesday the sales of the Bellagio and Circus Circus resorts in a pair of deals worth a total of roughly $5 billion.

The casino and resort operator’s share price dipped 1.3% Wednesday morning to $27.51.

The first deal sees the formation of a 95%-5% joint venture with Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust that values the iconic facility at $4.25 billion.

The venture will acquire Bellagio and lease it back to an MGM subsidiary for an annual rent of $245 million. MGM will earn a 5% equity interest in the venture, in addition to about $4.2 billion in cash.

“This transaction confirms the premium value of our owned real estate assets, highlights the unique value of Bellagio as a premier asset in gaming and solidifies our status as a premier operator of gaming and entertainment properties,” MGM CEO Jim Murren said in a statement. 

“We will use the proceeds from this transaction, together with the proceeds from the pending sale of Circus Circus Las Vegas, to build a fortress balance sheet and return capital to shareholders.”

Circus Circus sold for $825 million to an affiliate of Treasure Island resort owner Phil Ruffin.

“Circus Circus has anchored the north end of the Las Vegas Strip for over 50 years, and I am excited to add it to my casino portfolio,” Ruffin said. “I have tremendous respect for Jim Murren and the MGM team.”

The transactions are expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The company said the moves are part of an asset-light strategy to monetize its real estate assets effectively. Its current assets include the MGM Grand, MGM Springfield, a 50% stake in CityCenter and 68% economic ownership in MGM Growth Properties LLC.

Contact Andrew Kessel at andrew.kessel@proactiveinvestors.com 

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