Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd says it has received “an unsolicited and non-binding proposal” from private equity management firm The Blackstone Group Inc, to acquire all of the shares in Crown Resorts.
Crown Resorts, whose shares closed at AUD9.90 on Thursday, said the proposal was at a price of AUD12.50 (US$9.10) cash per share, according to a filing to the Australian bourse on Friday. Blackstone’s proposal values the deal at more than AUD8.46 billion (US$6.16 billion), based on the Australian firm’s outstanding shares.
Blackstone is the casino firm’s second largest shareholder, controlling nearly 10 percent of Crown Resorts.
In Friday’s filing, Crown Resorts said it was assessing the proposal, which follows earlier offers from Blackstone of AUD11.85 per share in March, and AUD12.35 per share in May. The casino firm rejected the latter offer, saying it undervalued the company.
“The Crown board has not yet formed a view on the merits of the proposal,” the company said in a statement to the Australian bourse. The firm said it would “now assess the proposal, having regard to the value and terms of the proposal and other considerations.” It would also “engage with relevant stakeholders including regulatory authorities.”
It added: “There is no certainty that the proposal will result in a transaction.”
Blackstone is no stranger to investment in the casino industry. The group currently owns the property of a few casino hotels in Las Vegas, including the MGM Grand, the Mandalay Bay and the Bellagio.
Crown Resorts said in its Friday filing that Blackstone’s offer price would be “reduced by the value of any dividends or distributions declared or paid by Crown.” Blackstone has indicated that the proposed transaction would be funded through a combination of debt and equity, according to the statement
Any acquisition of Crown Resorts by Blackstone is conditional on Blackstone conducting due diligence on an exclusive basis and the global investment firm receiving final approval from its investment committee.
The offer is also conditional on the suitor receiving final approval from the casino regulators in each of the Australian states where Crown Resorts operates: Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia.
Crown Resorts – until 2016 a partner in the Macau gaming market alongside Melco Resorts brand – has been facing stringent regulatory scrutiny in Australia.
The Australian casino firm has been grilled at home because of its “dishonest and unethical” conduct, as described by local authorities. Crown Resorts has been found unsuitable to operate a casino in Melbourne, in the state of Victoria, and given two years to reform itself, according to a report released in late October.
In February, the company had been found unsuitable to be permitted to open a casino in Sydney, New South Wales, and a decision on its gaming licence there is still pending.
Crown Resorts is also facing regulatory scrutiny in Western Australian, where it runs Crown Perth resort (pictured), over the firm’s suitability to hold its casino licence in that state.
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