New Handover Proposal Could Mark the End of the Packer-Crown Resorts Saga

By Ralph Trayfalgar, Updated:

Crown Resorts, one of Australia’s largest and most prestigious real money gambling and resort brands, reported on Thursday that it had received a revised handover proposal from US equity firm Blackstone, which the company's board of directors unanimously recommended that investors accept.

A 60-cent increase in the price per share brought Blackstone's offer to $13.10 per share, which comes out to a proposition of AU$8.87 billion. 

In a March interview with the Australian Financial Review's Chanticleer column, James Packer expressed his support for the board's proposal, saying the offer was 'in the best interests of Crown shareholders.' Packer, who holds a 37% share in Crown, has been trying to sell his holdings in the gambling and entertainment firm that he has spent the last two decades establishing.

In exchange for selling his troubled Crown casino company to American private equity firm Blackstone, James Packer is poised to get $3.3 billion in cash and stock. 

His Consolidated Press Holdings company stated it was 'encouraged' by the statement made on Thursday morning. Before reaching a decision on its shareholding, CPH will analyze all papers published to the market by Crown Resorts in connection with the binding control transaction, according to a statement made by the corporation.

Because Crown Resorts' has the best live casino assets, the firm has a substantial amount of equity, which reflects the high level of interest in the company. While Ziggy Switkowski, the company's chairman, and CEO, Steve McCann, the company's top executive, have said they are open to additional proposals,

Another private equity firm's proposal for Blackstone might increase the takeover price, while bids from other private equity companies could increase the pressure on Blackstone. It would take a shareholder vote with 75% approval from Crown board members in order for Blackstone to complete a takeover proposal.

Competing Bids

It was in March last year that Blackstone initially contacted the troubled casino firm with a bid of $11.85 per share, which was rejected along with another offering on the grounds that it was too low. Crown shares soared as much as 9% to A$12.68 in the early hours of Thursday morning, reaching their highest level since June 4th.

Rival Sydney casino operator Star Entertainment Group, which controls Star Casino, proposed a $12 billion merger between the two ASX-listed firms in May, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Star Entertainment Group withdrew its plan in July after Crown was interrogated by royal commissions on corruption allegations and potential connections to criminal groups.

However, Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier has hinted that the company may be able to make a comeback after its casino was the subject of an investigation for similar violations.

Crown has also had a rocky start in New South Wales, where a public inquiry determined that the company had assisted in money laundering, leading to the suspension of the casino license for its brand new resort and casino Barangaroo in late 2020.

Commissioner Patricia Bergin proposed a number of significant modifications that Crown would need to implement before it could operate the casino in February. During her investigation for the Liquor and Gaming NSW, Bergin discovered that Crown subsidiaries were being utilized to launder money and that the company's actions had assisted money laundering for at least five years prior.

A number of suggestions were made, including the conduct of a forensic investigation to ensure that all money laundering in Crown accounts had been discovered. 

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