Kerzner Int’l Hires Blackstone for Restructuring Advice

NASSAU (Reuters) – Bahamas-based luxury resorts operator Kerzner International said on Wednesday it had hired the Blackstone Group (BX.N), a leading private equity firm, for advice on the restructuring of its multibillion-dollar debt.

Ed Fields, a Kerzner International spokesman, said the owner of the Atlantis and One & Only Ocean resorts on Paradise Island in the Bahamas had retained Blackstone to help address the restructuring of about $3.2 billion in debt.

The red ink was run up by a consortium of investors led by Sol Kerzner, the company’s chairman and chief executive, who took it private in 2006.

“They were simply retained to advise us on the restructuring of our debt in 2011,” Fields told Reuters.

He declined to comment further other than to say the restructuring would have “zero impact” on operations at Kerzner International’s collection of properties, which include The Palm in Dubai.

Kerzner International saw its operating income fall by 15 percent last year on a drop in tourism stemming from the global financial crisis.

George Markantonis, managing director of Kerzner International’s Bahamian subsidiary, told a recent news conference the company expected an average 67 percent occupancy rate for 2010 at its Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, having seen a 35 percent year-to-date increase in leisure travel bookings for the period to end-April.

He added, however, that the Bahamian resort’s casino business was off about 15 percent this year due to the increasing proliferation of gaming in many U.S. states, especially in Florida and east coast markets. (Editing by Gary Hill)