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Crown shares slump after Wynn drops bid

Sydney

SHARES in Australian gambling giant Crown plunged by almost 10 per cent Wednesday after Las Vegas casino group Wynn Resorts abruptly pulled the plug on its takeover offer.

Australian-listed Crown Resorts saw its share price jump by 20 per cent on Tuesday after it told the Australian Securities Exchange about Wynn's share and cash buyout, which valued the firm at some A$10 billion (S$9.7 billion).

But it plunged to A$12.55 in early Sydney trading Wednesday from A$14.05 at the close on Tuesday, after Wynn said overnight it had "terminated all discussions with Crown" due to their "premature disclosure".

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There has been speculation in Australian media that the announcement was part of an attempt to spark a bidding war with other interested parties. The talks had been going on for some months and involved a previous offer, The Australian newspaper reported.

Crown's share price had been heading south in recent months, as a fall in big spenders following a crackdown by Beijing hurt revenue.

The company - which owns casinos in Melbourne and Perth, and is building another in Sydney - has also endured a turbulent few years as it underwent significant restructuring and divested itself of several overseas interests.

China detained several of the company's employees for months before they were released in 2017.

Australian tycoon and former Crown head James Packer departed the family firm last year citing "mental health issues", although he remains a significant shareholder.

Wynn Resorts, which operates casinos in Las Vegas and Macau, has also had a rocky few months after founder Steve Wynn stepped down earlier this year as chairman and chief executive in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations. AFP