Blackstone on Track for US$6.3bn Crown Resorts Takeover

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The Crown Resorts board is in favor of accepting an AU$8.9bn (US$6.3bn) takeover offer from Blackstone. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Board in favor of offer

US private equity firm Blackstone Group is on track to take over Crown Resorts in a deal worth about US$6.3bn.

The board of the Melbourne-based casino company announced on Monday that it is unanimously in favor of accepting the AU$8.9bn (US$6.3bn) takeover offer, subject to certain conditions. This is an all-cash AU$13.10 (US$9.30) per share offer, with the closing share price of the casino company on Friday at AU$12.39 (US$8.80).

an attractive outcome for shareholders”

Crown Resorts chairman Ziggy Switkowski described the offer as “an attractive outcome for shareholders.” For the deal to proceed, it would still need approval from relevant gaming regulators and the Foreign Investment Review Board. A shareholder vote will also take place at some stage between April and June. The deal will need at least 75% shareholder approval.

The New South Wales (NSW) Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) has already completed most of its probity assessment of the potential buyer and found no issues.

Getting the deal over the line

Blackstone originally made a bid of AU$11.85 (US$8.41) per share in March 2021. However, this offer was worth about 10% less than the current AU$8.9bn (US$6.3bn) bid. The company upped its offer in January before entering exclusive talks with Crown.

Blackstone already has many casino assets, such as the MGM Grand and the Bellagio casino resorts in Las Vegas. It also owns Cirsa, a Spanish group that has 147 casinos.

Crown’s largest shareholder James Packer currently holds a 37% stake in the company, which is worth about AU$3.26bn (US$2.3bn) based on the Blackstone offer. Recent numerous controversies have caused Packer to push for a sale of his shares. Blackstone already owns a stake of approximately 10% in Crown, making it the second-largest shareholder.

Scandal after scandal

Crown Resorts has found itself embroiled in numerous high-profile scandals over the years. Allegations made against the casino company include links to criminal organizations, money laundering failures, deliberately underpaying tax, and irresponsibility towards gambling harm.

Its Sydney casino gambling license is still suspended more than a year after the gaming floor was due to open. This decision came after the Bergin inquiry found wide-ranging failings. The ILGA is reportedly planning to reinstate this gambling license in the coming weeks.

After another recent inquiry, Crown’s casino resort in Melbourne also has to operate with the supervision of a manager for a two-year period. Meanwhile, an ongoing royal commission in Western Australia will publish its findings on Crown in March.