Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Crown Resorts has agreed to enter into exclusive takeover talks with Blackstone Group after the US private equity group sweetened its bid to buy the Australian gambling company under pressure for about A $ 8.9 billion (US $ 6.5 billion).

The revised offer values ​​Crown at A $ 13.10 per share, an increase of A $ 0.60 per share or about A $ 1 billion in additional cash from a previous proposal Blackstone made to the casino business, supported by the Australian billionaire James Packer, in November.

The latest bid comes after the gambling company’s board last year rejected several offers from the US buyout group, which already owns 9.99 percent of Crown.

Crown has been at the center of a bid war between Blackstone and smaller casino rival Star Entertainment since May, which sought a merger.

Star withdrew his interest in July when Australian authorities said Crown could possibly lose its gambling license following an investigation into money laundering allegations. That threat was lifted in September after the investigation ended and the Sydney-based Star continued to express interest in reviving its A $ 12 billion merger plan.

Blackstone will complete its prudential inquiry in the coming days and if it decides to make a binding offer of no less than A $ 13.10 per share, the offer will be unanimously accepted by Crown’s board, the Australian company. said in a statement.

The deal underscores Blackstone’s continued interest in owning casinos, as the private equity investor agreed in 2019 to acquire the real estate assets of MGM’s Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. for $ 4.25 billion.

Blackstone only approached Crown after Australian regulators ruled in early 2021 that the gambling company was unsuitable to operate a new A $ 2.2 billion casino resort in Sydney due to concerns about money laundering and poor corporate governance.

The deal also underscores the continued interest by global investors in seizing Australian assets despite the pandemic.

The Australian market has in recent years been one of the most active for transactions, driven by cheap financing and private capital targeting listed assets ranging from telecommunications to airports to the funds themselves.

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