News, Culture & Society

James Packer set to LOSE his embattled Crown casino empire as board backs takeover bid

Billionaire James Packer is set to LOSE his embattled Crown casino empire as his board backs a $8.87billion takeover bid from a private equity firm

  • James Packer set to lose Crown Casino empire in takeover bid from Blackstone 
  • Crown shareholders were recommended to accept the deal worth $8.87billion
  • The private equity firm increased its previous $12.50 per share offer to $13.10 
  • Approval of the takeover is needed by Packer who owns 37 per cent of Crown 


Reclusive billionaire James Packer is set to lose his embattled Crown casino empire to a takeover bid from private equity firm Blackstone. 

Casino giant Crown Resorts said on Thursday it received a revised non-binding proposal worth at least $8.87 billion, that it would recommend to shareholders.

Blackstone increased its previous $12.50 per share offer to $13.10 after a look at the Casino’s books during due diligence in December. 

James Packer (pictured) is set to lose his embattled Crown casino empire in a multi-billion dollar takeover bid from private equity firm Blackstone

Shareholders were recommended to accept the new deal if Blackstone puts forth a binding agreement of no less than $13.10 cash per share.

‘Crown has decided to provide Blackstone with the opportunity to finalise its due diligence inquiries and negotiate the terms of an implementation agreement, so that Blackstone can put forward a binding offer,’ Crown said.  

The actioning of any takeover deal will lie with billionaire James Packer who owns 37 per cent of Crown, but has been looking to offload his stake in recent years.

A takeover deal from Blackstone would require a shareholder vote with 75 per cent support from Crown board members. 

Blackstone first approached the embattled casino group in March last year with an offer of $11.85 per share that was rebuffed, along with another bid, for being too low. 

In May, rival Sydney Casino operator Star Entertainment Group, which owns Star Casino, proposed a $12 billion merger between the two ASX listed companies.

Crown shareholders were recommended to accept the new deal if Blackstone puts forth a binding agreement of no less than $13.10 cash per share

Crown shareholders were recommended to accept the new deal if Blackstone puts forth a binding agreement of no less than $13.10 cash per share

The Star scrapped its proposal in July after Crown was grilled by royal commissions investigating criminal activity and other malpractice in its Perth and Melbourne casinos. 

But Star Entertainment boss Matt Bekier indicated there could be an opportunity for a second run after its casino became the subject of an inquiry for similar breaches.

Crown has also had a troubled run in NSW after a public inquiry found it facilitated money laundering and had the gaming license for its brand new resort and casino Barangaroo suspended in late 2020. 

Commissioner Patricia Bergin in February recommended a number of drastic changes that Crown would have to make before it could run the casino.  

Ms Bergin’s report to the Liquor and Gaming NSW found Crown subsidiaries were used to launder money and the company’s conduct facilitated money laundering for at least five years.  

Evidence was also aired of the company’s links with organised crime figures and a high-risk, profit-driven culture.

The takeover deal will lie with billionaire James Packer (pictured) who owns 37 per cent of Crown

The takeover deal will lie with billionaire James Packer (pictured) who owns 37 per cent of Crown

Numerous recommendations were made, including a forensic probe to make sure all money-laundering in Crown accounts was uncovered. 

Then a Victorian Royal Commission last year deemed Crown’s Melbourne Casino unfit for operation due to a series of ‘disgraceful’ legal and ethical breaches.

It was recommended Crown continue operating under the oversight of a special manager for two years while it undertook comprehensive reform. 

During a West Australian Royal Commission in November, Mr Packer admitted there were ‘many oversights’ during his time overseeing Crown’s Perth casino.

He also told the probe he should have quit as a company executive, having not attended any board meetings during his final three years as chairman. 

‘I don’t believe there was,’ he said in a rare public appearance. ‘Looking back there are many oversights, things that should have been done differently. I did not believe at that point in time that Crown Perth was engaged in money laundering.’ 

The WA inquiry is due to deliver its final report in March. 

***
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk