Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd said on Monday it had received a circa AUD3.0-billion (US$2.31-billion) proposal by private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management LP to buy the circa 37-percent stake of James Packer (pictured in a file photo) in the casino firm.
Crown said the “unsolicited, preliminary, non-binding and indicative proposal” was from a company acting on behalf of Oaktree Capital Management. The latter is a U.S.-based global asset management firm specialising in what it terms alternative investment strategies.
Consolidated Press Holdings Pty Ltd holds Mr Packer’s stake in Crown Resorts – currently the largest single interest in the casino firm – amounting to about 37 percent, according to Monday’s filing.
“The Crown board has not yet formed a view on the merits of the Oaktree proposal,” Crown said in a statement. “It will now commence a process to assess the Oaktree proposal.”
The casino firm said that the funding commitment from Oaktree Capital Management would be done via a “structured instrument,” with the proceeds “to be used by Crown to buy back some or all of the Crown shares” that are held by Consolidated Press Holdings “on a selective basis.”
“Any selective buy-back of Crown shares held by Consolidated Press Holdings would be subject to Crown shareholder approval (with no votes being cast in favour of the resolution by Consolidated Press Holdings or its associates),” added Crown.
Crown is currently assessing a proposal from Blackstone Group, which valued the casino firm at more than AUD8.02 billion, based on the Australian company’s outstanding shares
The Australian casino operator has been facing stringent regulatory scrutiny in Australia. In February, the firm was found unsuitable to operate a new Sydney casino at Barangaroo, in New South Wales. The regulator there suggested a number of recommendations be adopted by the firm in order to be considered fit to be granted a gaming licence.
The New South Wales state gaming regulator announced last week it had reached a deal with Consolidated Press Holdings, for the latter to scale back its influence over Crown.
The casino operator is also facing regulatory scrutiny in the Australian states of Victoria, where it operates Crown Melbourne, and in Western Australian, where it runs Crown Perth, over the firm’s suitability to hold its casino licences in those states.
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