06/04/2021 - 16:04

Packer to consider sale of Crown

06/04/2021 - 16:04

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Packer to consider sale of Crown

James Packer will consider selling his 37 per cent stake in embattled Crown Resorts after US investment fund Blackstone last month made an unsolicited $8 billion offer for the gaming giant.

In a statement issued by Mr Packer's private company Consolidated Press Holdings today, the company said it was "open to considering, and will independently assess, any suitable transaction for Crown shares that may eventuate".

"CPH welcomes the Crown Board’s announcement that it will commence a process to assess the Proposal and it will also engage with relevant stakeholders including regulatory authorities about the Proposal," the company said.

"CPH notes that the Crown announcement confirms that there is no certainty that the Proposal will result in a transaction."

The company said it had retained Moelis Australia to advise on any deal.

One of the conditions of Blackstone's offer is that a future Blackstone-owned Crown is deemed a suitable 'person' to hold the Sydney, Melbourne and Perth casino licences.

The recent Bergin inquiry concluded Crown was not suitable to hold the Sydney licence and royal commissions have subsequently been established in WA and Victoria to investigate its suitability in those states.

Blackstone already holds 9.99 per cent of Crown, which it bought from Melco Resorts & Entertainment in April last year for $8.15 per share.

Crown shares traded as high as $12.71 early last year, before an inquiry into its finances resumed, and the pandemic took hold.

The non-binding offer offer from Blackstone is priced at $11.85 cash per share, equating to a total value of about $8 billion. Crown shares closed at $9.86 before the offer was received, but closed today at $11.81.

Based on Blackstone's offer, Mr Packer's share in Crown is valued at about $3 billion. 

Amid the fallout from the Bergin inquiry, five directors and chief executive Ken Barton resigned. 

Meanwhile, Crown today announced the appointment to the board of Nigel Morrison, the former chief executive of Auckland’s SkyCity casino, had been given the tick of approval by regulators.

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