Caesars set to name Anthony Rodio as CEO, explore takeover interest

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Gaming sources confirmed Sunday night that former Tropicana CEO Tony Rodio will be named CEO of Caesars Entertainment.

Rodio oversaw Icahn’s seven-casino company that was sold last year to regional casino operator Eldorado Resorts and real estate investment trust Gaming and Leisure Properties for $1.8 billion. He spent more than three decades in Atlantic City, helping to lead the Boardwalk gaming community’s growth and a subsequent resurgence after new competition sent the market into a prolonged nosedive.

In October, Rodio was named CEO of Las Vegas-based regional casino operator Affinity Gaming.

Carl Icahn, the 83-year-old corporate raider, controls close to 20 percent of Caesars through stock acquisitions he completed between December and March. Icahn is pushing for the sale of Caesars or wants to merge the company with another casino operator.

The Wall Street Journal  reported Caesars will from a board committee to evaluate takeover interest in the casino operator.

Icahn and Caesars Entertainment’s management reached a deal in March where his representatives controlled one-fourth of the company’s then 12-person board. Icahn also has nearly total say over who will be the company’s next chief executive. If Caesars hasn’t named a new CEO to Icahn’s liking, he gets a fourth seat on the board.

Current Caesars CEO Mark Frissora announced plans last year to leave the position in February, but later agreed to remain through April when the search for a new CEO stalled. Frissora, a former CEO with Hertz, joined Caesars in July 2015 and led the company through its 30-month bankruptcy reorganization

Frissora is also a member of Caesars board. Rodio is expected to replace Frissora on the board.

Rodio has gaming industry experience in regional markets. He served as president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment – and a member of the company’s board – since 2011.

Rodio, who also served in various roles with Hollywood Casino Corp. and Harrah’s Entertainment, oversaw improvements in Tropicana Entertainment where revenue grew more that 50 percent. He also oversaw the company’s regional market expansion outside Atlantic City.

Las Vegas-based Affinity is controlled by Illinois-based Z Capital Partners. The currently operates 11 casinos in Nevada, Colorado, Missouri and Iowa.