Greektown Reorganization Plan Approved; Sault Tribe Out

From the Detroit News:

A plan approved Friday to lead Greektown Casino out of bankruptcy protection will repay most creditors and strip ownership from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Judge Walter Shapero of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Detroit confirmed the plan, pending state and city approvals on other issues that must be obtained by June 30. The plan, the third proposal since Greektown filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May 2008, was approved by creditors last week.

“Greektown Casino is now approaching the finish line for its exit from bankruptcy,” said Charles Moore, the casino’s lead restructuring adviser with Conway MacKenzie Inc. in Birmingham.

City of Detroit OKs Greektown Bankruptcy Plan

From the Detroit News via Pechanga:

Detroit — A plan to hand control of Greektown Casino-Hotel to its largest group of creditors has been tentatively approved by the city of Detroit and could get the casino of out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the end of the year.
The tentative agreement was unveiled this morning at a meeting of the Michigan Gaming Control Board. The casino would be in the hands to the largest group of secured creditors, represented in the case by banking and investment giant Merrill Lynch.

“This is a major milestone,” said attorney Daniel Weiner of Bloomfield Hills-based Schafer and Weiner, who represents the debtors. The tentative agreement was reached with the city Friday, but needs approval by City Council, Mayor Dave Bing, the gaming board and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Walter Shapero. A confirmation hearing in bankruptcy court is set for Nov. 3, which would be followed by a vote of the gaming board.

The other suitor for the hotel and casino was an effort lead by Bloomfield Hills business man Tom Celani, in partnership with Connecticut-based hedge fund Plainfield Asset Management.

Greektown’s owners, the Sault Tribe of Chippewa, filed for Chapter 11 protection on May 29, 2008. The Detroit casino has more than $777 million in debt.

Chuck Moore, a financial advisor working on the Greektown case, said he anticipates that the tentative bankruptcy agreement will ultimately be approved.

“We anticipate a contested confirmation hearing, but it will be approved,” Moore told the Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Greektown is $755 Million in Debt

From Indianz:

The commercial casino that is majority owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians of Michigan is more than $755 million in debt.

The Greektown Casino in Detroit entered bankruptcy proceedings last year. So far, all of the exit plans that have been submitted would relieve the tribe of its ownership in the facility.

The latest offer comes from businessman Tom Celani, who said he will bid $450 million for the casino.

Get the Story:

Businessman to bid $450M for Greektown Casino (The Detroit News 7/31)

Greektown Update — Court Grants Motion to Assume Development Contract with City

Here’s the news article explaining all of this (link to Freep article). And here are the materials:

DCT Order Granting Motion to Assume Executory Contract

Greektown Motion to Assume

Greektown Less Likely to Sell, Given Low Bids

From the Detroit News (via Pechanga):

Greektown Casino-Hotel will spend more time looking at ways to reorganize its debts rather than selling the property to exit bankruptcy, after multiple bids came in lower than expected, a financial adviser for the gambling hall said Thursday.

Chuck Moore, an adviser from Birmingham-based Conway MacKenzie Inc., which is working on Greektown’s bankruptcy, told the Michigan Gaming Control Board at its Thursday meeting that his team would shift focus toward looking at ways the casino can reorganize some $777 million in debt.

“There was disappointment at the values of the bids we’ve seen so far,” Moore said. “Our creditors don’t believe they adequately compensate for the performance of the property.”

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Greektown Decision on Tax Rollback Due May 14

From the Detroit News:

Lawyers for Greektown Casino-Hotel and the city of Detroit will have to wait two more weeks to hear if a bankruptcy judge thinks the casino can assume a development agreement that would grant a tax rollback saving roughly $17 million annually.

At an unusually short Friday hearing, federal Judge Walter Shapero said he’ll issue his opinion on the matter at 3 p.m. on May 14.

The tax rollback issue is particularly contentious for Greektown, which entered Chapter 11 proceedings 11 months ago. By filing, Greektown was able to secure the financing it needed to complete construction on its 400-room hotel and resort complex.

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Penn National Bids on Greektown Casino

From Freep (H/T Pechanga):

Penn National Gaming, Inc., a well-capitalized casino owner, has submitted a bid to purchase Greektown Casino in downtown Detroit.

Timothy J. Wilmott, president and chief operating officer of the Pennslyvania-based company, said Penn National likes the Detroit market. The company also has looked at buying assets from MGM Mirage, including the company’s MGM Grand Detroit property.

Penn National is the second bidder to confirm its interest in buying the casino that filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy about a year ago. Bloomfield Hills businessman Tom Celani also has bid on Greektown.

Greektown is actively marketing the property through the bankruptcy process. By June 1, the casino’s estate must choose one of two paths — reorganization under its current owner, the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, or a sale to a new owner.

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Greektown Revenues Dropped During Final Four

What?!?! From Crain’s:

Despite having Detroit filled with basketball fans, the weekend of the Final Four produced a 5 percent drop in revenue for the Greektown Casino Hotel compared to the prior weekend.

Revenue meanwhile, increased by 12 percent at MGM Grand Detroit and 6 percent at MotorCity Casino Hotel.

The problem?

Too many people at the casino but not enough of them gambling, said Greektown CEO Randall Fine.

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Bankruptcy Judge Tours Greektown

From the Detroit News (via Pechanga):

Could the big empty shell of a room tucked away in a corner of Greektown Casino-Hotel’s downtown complex serve as a viable event center?

That’s the question facing bankruptcy judge Walter Shapero this afternoon as he tours what Greektown lawyers call an event center and what attorneys for the City of Detroit are calling a breach of contract.

Greektown is arguing for a tax rollback from the city and state that would save it millions a year in taxes levied on gaming revenues. That rollback is dependent on compliance with a revised development agreement approved by Detroit City Council in 2006.

Greektown wants Judge Shapero to rule that the casino has complied with the agreement, opening the door to lower taxes and giving the casino the ability to transfer the agreement, along with the lower tax rate, to a new owner should it decide to sell.

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Mich. COA Decides ICWA-Related Case

The opinion in In the Matter of Coyle is here. The Court of Appeal concluded that ICWA’s tribal notice requirements did not apply. An excerpt:

Finally, respondent argues that petitioner should have notified the Cherokee tribe, and there was insufficient evidence that any tribe was notified. ***

In the present case, respondent stated during the preliminary hearing that her grandparents were Cherokee Indians. However, she never mentioned the Cherokee tribe again and never objected to references to the Chippewa Tribe of Sault Ste. Marie in several later hearings. Her statement that her father tried to get her grandparents’ tribe involved in 2003, followed by references to the Chippewa tribe trying to get involved in 2003, strongly indicated that her grandparents’ tribe was actually the Chippewa and she was mistaken when she called it Cherokee. Respondent did not give the trial court reason to believe her children might actually be members of a Cherokee tribe, in light of her repeated failure to object to references to the Chippewa and failure to request that another tribe or the Bureau of Indian Affairs be notified. Respondent also did not question petitioner’s assertions that the Chippewa tribe was contacted. Petitioner’s unchallenged assertions constitute sufficient evidence that notice occurred. The trial court did not commit any error requiring reversal.