Company details debt-exchange plan including that it paid $1.7 billion in interest and other debt expenses last year. Speculation begins if plan will be enough

Through a debt-exchange offer that the company said expired last week, Harrah’s Entertainment reduced its debt by some US$2.3 billion, but speculation remains whether the debt-reduction plan of the world’s largest gaming company will be enough to fend off bankruptcy.    

Harrah’s said it accepted exchange notes with a principal amount of $5.55 billion, which it will exchange for $3.4 billion in new 10 percent notes due 2018 and about $102 million in cash. The new debt has a longer maturity and, in some cases, a higher interest rate. The company also replaced $442 million in bridge loans with the new 2018 notes valued at $297 million.

In a press statement on its Web site, the company detailed the debt-exchange plan to date including that it paid $1.7 billion in interest and other debt expenses last year.

While a positive development, several media outlets have interviewed financial analysts regarding Harrah’s prospects moving forward. The Las Vegas Sun quoted one expert as saying “(Harrah’s) should now clearly get through 2010 without any liquidity problems.” Citing bond analysts, the Las Vegas Gaming Wire reports that further examination of the exchange details will reveal the effectiveness of the debt-swap program.