Tribe wins Rank vote

January 09, 2007|By John Holland | John Holland,South Florida Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Seminole Tribe's purchase of the Hard Rock Cafe International chain won approval yesterday, a month after the $965 million deal was announced and despite a lawsuit by the Cordish Co. of Baltimore.

Shareholders of Rank Group, LLC of London approved the sale with a "show of hands" at a special meeting, Rank executives said in statement. The outcome was expected despite allegations made in a recent lawsuit accusing the tribe and others of rigging the bid in favor of the Seminoles.

The Seminoles, the first Indian tribe in the country to have legalized gambling, also become the first tribe to use their huge gaming proceeds to purchase an international company.

The tribe operates Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos in Hollywood and Tampa that have generated nearly $1 billion in profit over the past two years, according to filings in various lawsuits involving the tribe.

The sale is expected to close by March 5, the tribe said.

Last month, Cordish filed a lawsuit accusing the tribe and an executive of Hard Rock Cafe International of conspiring to lower the sale price in exchange for financial considerations and a promise of jobs for some Hard Rock executives. The tribe's $965 million purchase price was as much as $300 million lower than some estimates, according to financial analysts.

Cordish, which built the Hollywood and Tampa casinos, said in the lawsuit that it wanted to buy Hard Rock from Rank and would have paid a higher price.

The Seminoles have said the lawsuit has no merit, and Rank executives proceeded with the sale.

John Holland writes for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

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