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PEOPLE TO WATCH 2014: David Berman

Senior Managing Director of the Gaming, Lodging and Leisure Group, Macquarie Capital

PEOPLE TO WATCH 2014: David Berman

It’s fitting for David Berman to be a merger and acquisition kingpin. 

He himself was a targeted play.

The senior managing director and global head of gaming, lodging and leisure for Macquarie was recruited in 2011. He came in the deal in which the Sydney, Australia-based company acquired Regal Capital Advisors, the Los Angeles-based boutique investment bank focusing on the gaming, lodging and leisure industries founded by Berman. Macquarie Group is a leading provider of banking, financial advisory, investment and funds management services.

Regal provided a broad range of advisory services, including mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, debt and equity placements, and debt restructuring.

He has, to put it mildly, made a regal transformation. Under Berman’s tutelage, Macquarie has helped orchestrate some of the largest merger and acquisition deals in the industry over the past couple of years.

Berman’s group delivered a $1.49 billion sale of WMS Industries to Scientific Games and a $1.45 billion sale of Peninsula Gaming to Boyd Gaming. SHFL entertainment was scooped up by Bally Technologies for $1.33 billion in late November, and MTR Gaming has announced a $1 billion merger with Eldorado Resorts.

Stocks on both sides of the aisle performed well. WMS was sold at a 57 percent premium to its 90-day average pre-announcement price and SHFL entertainment was sold at a 40 percent premium to such average. When you look at WMS, that’s a great price for their shareholders and it becomes a great business for Scientific Games.

“The market likes this convergence play,” Berman says, “with the acquirers’ stocks outperforming their publicly traded competitors. It’s win-win. That’s the fascinating part of this business. You find the value and creativity to make negotiations work. Every transaction is unique. We’re solely focused on creating value for our clients’ stakeholders, whether a transaction is $50 million or $2 billion.”

Berman accommodates both buyers and sellers. In addition, his group assists companies raising debt and equity. His banking knowledge and gaming contacts continue to bear fruit in an era in which casinos can prosper either by refinancing or acquiring another company.

Macquarie is happy to have Berman aboard. The Washington state native, now based in Los Angeles, brought nearly two decades of gaming, lodging and leisure industry experience to the new company.

Prior to founding Regal, he was managing director and head of the gaming, lodging and leisure investment banking group at Credit Suisse, and held similar roles at CIBC World Markets and Oppenheimer & Co. He had executed more than 75 advisory mandates with a combined transaction value over $65 billion and more than 175 debt and equity capital-raising transactions totaling over $100 billion for clients in the gaming, lodging and leisure sectors.

He’s on a hot streak now, known by some of his clients as “The Bermanator.”

Casino Connection Sports Editor Dave Bontempo is an award-winning sports writer and broadcaster who calls boxing matches all over the world. He has covered the Philadelphia Flyers in the playoffs, as well as numerous PGA, LPGA and Seniors Golf Tour events, and co-hosted the Casino Connection television program with Publisher Roger Gros.

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