Tilman Fertitta, Landry CEO, intends to return to the general public markets

Tilman Fertitta, chairman and CEO of Landry’s Inc., confirmed to CNBC Tuesday that he is considering bringing parts of his restaurant and gaming business back to the public market.

“You can do bigger business that way and there are so many more options when you have a share register,” said Fertitta at Power Lunch. “We’ve been trying to make some acquisitions in the past six months and we’ve been pulled out of each one by a public company because they can pay a greater multiple. So that’s something I’m definitely looking at.”

Bloomberg reported for the first time last week that Fertitta was considering bringing a “substantial” portion of its multi-billion dollar restaurant and casino portfolio to the public. Landry, Houston restaurants include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Morton’s The Steakhouse. Fertitta also owns the Golden Nugget Casino and Hotel brand.

Wall Street rallied sharply from coronavirus lows in late March, and investors were hungry for IPOs after the pandemic slowed the deals market in the spring. There was also a rush of companies going public through special purpose vehicles or SPACs in 2020.

“Because IPOs are so hot right now, and the size of my company, the restaurant industry and the games industry is something that people would like to have … I was listening to bankers and they were saying some very interesting things,” said Fertitta.

The billionaire first took Landry public in 1993. At the time, the company had nine restaurants, according to the Houston Chronicle. He brought Landry’s back to the private markets about a decade ago.

“I like to be public. It’s fun and competitive from quarter to quarter and year to year,” he said on Tuesday. Fertitta also owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets, but the basketball franchise wouldn’t be part of an IPO, according to Bloomberg.

While the restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, Landry’s has seen an improvement in its business, according to Fertitta. “We had a very good third quarter if you really look at what’s going on in the world,” he said.

Fertitta previously expressed optimism about the future of restaurants after the end of the pandemic, telling CNBC in September that 2022 “could be a spectacular year,” also because operators have learned to be more profitable. He repeated this outlook on Tuesday.

“There will be a great chance to get out of this pandemic, just like we got out of the ’90s in Texas and 2000 and then out of the 2008 recession. We did well during those times,” said Fertitta. “We see it as an opportunity.”

Another Fertitta company, Golden Nugget Online Gaming, is to go public via a SPAC. The reverse merger with Landcadia Holdings II was announced in June. The board of directors is scheduled to meet on December 18 to approve the merger. This is evident from a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Upon approval, Golden Nugget Online Gaming will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol GNOG. Fertitta will continue to serve as Chairman and CEO.

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