Crown Resorts Gets Approval For Blackstone’s $8.9bn Acquisition Offer
- James Packer in favour of Blackstone offer
- Crown Resorts proceeding with $8.9 billion acquisition
- Acquisition Will Not Stop Royal Commission recommendations
James Packer, the biggest shareholder in Crown Resorts is in favour for the Australian casino operator to be acquired by the Blackstone Group for $8.9 billion.
The acquisition comes after Australia’s biggest casino operator has faced a string of controversies in multiple states.
Blackstone has numerous assets like Bellagio, Cosmopolitan Casinos and MGM Grand and was trying to woo Crown for a year.
Packer To Earn An Estimated $3.26 Billion
The independent board of directors confirmed that Crown has signed an agreement with Blackstone under which the latter will buy all the listed shares in Crown at $13.10 each. Packer will get $3.26 billion from the acquisition. The sale still awaits the approval of gambling regulators and will be subject to a shareholders’ vote scheduled to be held between April and June 2022.
Lately, Crown has been scrutinised by commissions in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria, and Western Australia (WA) for legal and ethical infringements such as money laundering, criminal infiltration, and a high-handed approach to gambling harm. NSW and Victoria deemed Crown unfit to hold its casino licence but the Royal Commission (RC) in Victoria recommended for Crown Resorts to continue operating its flagship Melbourne casino under stipulated recommendations. The WA commission is yet to report its findings in March this year.
Philip Crawford, chairman of the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA), confirmed that the probity assessment of Blackstone conducted by the regulator has found it clean. The ILGA could go ahead with the last stages of the evaluation to oversee the Blackstone-employed local management scheduled for completion by mid-2022. Crown’s casino licence for its new $2.2 billion tower at Barangaroo, could also be reinstated after its suspension two years ago.
Acquisition Won’t Undermine RC Recommendations
Melissa Horne, Victoria’s Gaming Minister, said that the change in ownership would not mean that the state government will stop implementing the RC’s recommendations. The government has already implemented 9 out of the 33 recommendations made by the RC.
Tim Costello, chief advocate at the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said that the deal would not withhold the need for stronger regulations to address the issues raised by the RC. Chris Tynan, the senior managing director at Blackstone said he looked forward to helping Crown add to Australia’s post-pandemic recovery via its experience in the hospitality and entertainment industry.