U.S. judge to rule Friday on extended halt to Caesars lawsuits

The first cabin of public riders is shown on the 550-foot-tall High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas

By Tracy Rucinski

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A U.S. judge said in Chicago bankruptcy court he will decide whether to extend a halt on lawsuits against Caesars Entertainment Corp <CZR.O> by bondholders who are seeking some $11 billion in claims on Friday at 3 p.m. CDT (1600 ET).

The casino operating unit of Caesars, which filed for bankruptcy with $18 billion of debt in January 2015, has asked for the shield to protect its parent’s multibillion-dollar contribution to its reorganization plan.

Caesars has so far pledged $4 billion to settle a series of claims of wrongdoing by creditors, many of which have been backed by an independent examiner’s report.

The amount that Caesars contributes to the plan could jump to $4.9 billion, a lawyer for its bankrupt operating unit said at a hearing on Thursday, improving recoveries for holdout creditors.

The current injunction on lawsuits expires on Aug. 29. Unless the court decides to extend it, the reorganization plan would fall apart, lawyer David Zott of Kirkland & Ellis said.

“We’re not doing this to help CEC. We’re doing this because we need it to fund the plan,” he told the hearing.

About 80 percent of the bankrupt company’s creditors support the reorganization plan, which is set for a confirmation trial in January.

A group of junior creditors has so far refused to back the plan and argued in court that a shield from lawsuits for the Caesars parent was preventing a fair settlement.

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)