U.S. casino operators Pinnacle, Penn National in merger talks

(Reuters) - Casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment Inc PNK.O is in talks with Penn National Gaming Inc PENN.O to sell itself in a cash-and-stock deal, the two companies said on Thursday.

Shares of Pinnacle and Penn National hit their record highs, with Pinnacle rising as much as 13.5 percent and Penn National 2.8 percent in late-afternoon trading.

Pinnacle had a market capitalization of about $1.76 billion as of Thursday’s close.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the merger talks last month, said on Thursday the deal could value Pinnacle in the low-$30’s per share.

Pinnacle, however, said there was no guarantee that the talks could lead to a deal.

The company owns and operates 16 gaming properties, including the Meadows Casino in Washington, Pennsylvania and Boomtown Casino Hotel in New Orleans.

Penn National operates 29 facilities in the United States and Canada, including the Tropicana Las Vegas and the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races.

Up to Thursday’ close, Pinnacle’s shares had risen 40.3 percent since Oct. 4, a day before the Journal broke news about the merger discussions, while Penn’s increased 25.5 percent.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar