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Australia's Crown Resorts quits Macau as Packer sells Melco stake

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Australian billionaire James Packer's casino group Crown Resorts Ltd has agreed to sell its remaining stake in Macau-focused Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd for US$1.16 billion, ending its exposure to the Asian gaming hub.

[SYDNEY] Australian billionaire James Packer's casino group Crown Resorts Ltd has agreed to sell its remaining stake in Macau-focused Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd for US$1.16 billion, ending its exposure to the Asian gaming hub.

Crown and Mr Packer, its biggest shareholder with 48 per cent, are cashing out of investments from Macau to Hollywood and Las Vegas to pay down debt and focus on its Australian businesses.

The retreat from Asia began last December and comes after a Chinese crackdown on graft and capital flight hit casino profits there. Crown was also rocked late last year by the arrest of 18 of its staff for "gambling crimes" in China.

Melco said in a statement it would buy back Crown's 11.2 per cent stake in the company, while Crown said separately the agreement was expected to be completed on May 15.

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Crown said it would sell 165.3 million shares for US$7.04 each and would initially use the proceeds to cut debt.

Mr Packer, the heir of one of Australia's most prominent business families, is selling out of several other overseas investments.

He has moved to quit his stake in Hollywood film studio Ratpac and open talks with Australian jobs website Seek Ltd to sell down his holding in their Chinese subsidiary, Zhaopin Ltd.

REUTERS

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