Blackstone tweaks conditions for US$6b Australia Crown Resorts buyout

Target must not lose further state licences before deal is approved, says US firm

Published Wed, Apr 14, 2021 · 05:50 AM

Sydney

AUSTRALIAN casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd said private equity giant Blackstone Group Inc modified the conditions of a proposed US$6 billion buyout, saying the target must not lose further state licences before the deal is approved.

Crown has already been found to be unfit to hold a gambling licence for its Sydney casino due to alleged links to organised crime, and faces quasi-judicial public inquiries into its operations in Victoria and Western Australia (WA), the two other states where it operates.

Last month, the US buyout specialist, which already owns 10 per cent of Crown, offered to buy the Crown shares it does not already own for A$11.85 each, valuing the Australian company at A$8 billion (S$8.17 billion).

The modified conditions safeguard Blackstone against an adverse recommendation like the cancellation or suspension of its WA or Victorian licences by either inquiry before the deal is approved by courts, Crown said in a statement on Tuesday.

The statement added that Blackstone expected to receive approvals to buy Crown from each state regulator "by Q3 2021", without specifying when during the July-September quarter it expected the result. The Victorian and WA inquiries are due to deliver their recommendations in August and November, respectively.

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Crown also clarified Blackstone's bid was not conditional on arranging financing for the deal, as it stated last month. A Blackstone representative declined to comment. Crown added its board of directors was still assessing the proposal.

Crown founder James Packer, who stands to receive about A$2.9 billion from the deal by selling his nearly 37 per cent stake, said earlier this month that he was open to the proposal. REUTERS

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