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MGM Resorts to own CityCenter, buys partner Dubai World's stake for over $2 bln

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Window lights spell out "Hope" and the shape of a heart at the Park MGM hotel-casino during the shutdown of all casinos and nonessential businesses, an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. April 3, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

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July 1 (Reuters) - MGM Resorts (MGM.N) will buy the remaining 50% stake in its joint venture on the Las Vegas Strip from a unit of investment firm Dubai World for $2.12 billion, the U.S. casino operator said on Thursday.

The venture, CityCenter Holdings, is an urban complex comprising Aria Resort and Casino and Vdara Hotel and Spa.

After buying it from Infinity World Development Corp, MGM said it will sell the two properties to private equity firm Blackstone (BX.N) for $3.89 billion in cash.

The deal is part of MGM's 'asset light' strategy to generate cash by selling real estate and use it for growth avenues such as sports betting and casino development in Japan.

"We expect to continue executing on our asset-light strategy and utilizing the proceeds from our real estate transactions to...secure new growth opportunities," MGM Resorts Chief Executive Bill Hornbuckle said.

Blackstone will lease the Aria and Vdara properties to MGM for an initial annual rent of $215 million, the company said. The deals are expected to close in the third quarter.

MGM's purchase price for CityCenter values the complex at about $5.8 billion, including net debt of $1.5 billion.

MGM shares were up 2.7% after having gained about 35% up to Wednesday's close this year.

Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Arun Koyyur
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