Will offer its 50 percent stake in Borgata to allow a focus on growth opportunities in Macau

MGM Mirage said it will place its 50 percent stake in Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa into a trust in preparation for a sale.

The move comes in response to a determination made last year by New Jersey casino regulators that the company’s Macau partner, Pansy Ho, was unsuitable as a business associate for a casino licensee in the state.

But Atlantic City’s limited growth prospects may also be factoring into the decision. There is also the fact that the company is planning a public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange of its MGM Grand Macau casino assets.

“We would like to put this matter behind us and move forward with the compelling growth opportunities we have in Macau,” said Chief Executive Jim Murren.

Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage holds one of Macau’s six casino licenses through a 50-50 joint venture with Ho, a daughter of Macau casino tycoon and market competitor Stanley Ho, who has been alleged over the years to have ties to organized crime groups in Asia. Ho has always denied the allegations and has never been charged in connection with them.

MGM Mirage has talked to several casino operators and investors about purchasing its stake in the Borgata but has not come to terms, according to news reports. Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming owns the other 50 percent and has the right under the partnership to match any offer.