Crown Resorts Accepts a Multi-Billion Dollar Acquisition from Blackstone

By Ryan White Updated: June 2022

Australian leading casino and gaming operator Crown Resorts is set to undergo a takeover buyout after its board unanimously recommended an A$8.9 billion offer from Blackstone. Crown Resort, a real money casino operates Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth, two of Australia’s leading online casino gambling and entertainment complexes. Over the past few months, the company has been the subject of scrutiny amidst allegations of tax evasion and failure to prevent money-laundering activities.

For more than three decades, the mega gambling operator was controlled by billionaire James Packer, who took over his father’s empire. Crown’s board announced on Monday that it had unanimously backed the offer from American private equity company Blackstone. According to the statement from Crown Resort chairman Ziggy Switkowski, the board unanimously recommends the takeover pending customary conditions.

It is not the first time Blackout has bid for the Australian giant gaming operator. The American company saw their initial offer of A$12.50 per share rejected by Crown, which led to a 4.8% improvement. However, the A$8.9 billion bid (A$13.10 per share) made last month remains the superior offer, and James Packer is set to accept the takeover. Packer’s family will effectively end the decades-long association with the Australian markets if the deal goes through. 

Crown Resorts Brand Is Strong

Crown Resort has two of the largest gaming and entertainment complexes in Australia. The flagship complex is in Melbourne, while the other is in Perth. Despite recent probes and sanctions, the brand has maintained its strong presence in the Australian market and generates millions of dollars in revenue. The Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), owned by James Packer, is Crown Resort’s biggest shareholder, with a 36.8% stake in the company. Blackout also has a 10% stake. If there was any doubt about the power of the Crown brand, the size of Blackout’s offer is a sure reflection of just how strong the brand is. According to Steve McCann, Crown Resort’s Managing Director and CEO, the bid represents a compelling offer for stakeholders and reflects the strong value of Crown’s world-class assets.

Shareholders to Benefit

“The all-cash offer provides shareholders with certainty of value,” was the statement from Ziggy Switkowski. Blackstone approached Crown back in March 2021 with an offer of A$11.85 per share, a bid that Crown rejected. However, the latest proposal has received the board’s full backing and now awaits customary conditions like independent expert closing. The transaction is also in the best interest of stakeholders, who are set to benefit from an all-cash buyout. Blackstone is set to buy all Crown shares at the best available price with no superior proposal in place. The board unanimously recommended the proposal, further highlighting its appeal and sensibility with regard to stakeholder interests. Over the last few months, the Crown board has insisted on maximizing value for its stakeholders, and the A$8.9 billion proposals are in line with that objective.

James Packer Delighted With the Deal

James Packer’s private investment vehicle CPH, which holds 38 per cent of the casino empire, didn’t comment on the latest announcement but has shown previous support in January. CPH has a shareholding worth of around $3.2 billion and has been the major shareholder of Crown and its Publishing & Broadcasting Limited since the mid-1990s. James Packer’s camp is inclined to support the A$8.9 billion takeovers and $13.10 per share bid from Blackstone. Mr Packer’s shareholding is worth $3.2 billion and will be his last financial link to the Australian market. Although Packer previously envisioned expanding Crown across Australia, Macau and the United States, his dream may come true but under different ownership as CPH and other stakeholders are poised to vote unanimously in acceptance of the Blackstone takeover.

Blackstone Beat Off the Rivals

For more than 12 months, investors have battled over the Crown Resort, and Blackstone has had to increase their bid more than once. The initial offers faced reluctance from the board and stakeholders, but their latest proposal has been met with tremendous optimism. Blackstone beat all rivals with a superior offer that no other investor could match. The American private equity firm emerged victorious after adjusting its bid by as much as 4.8% per share. The remaining part is for stakeholders to vote and other customary proceedings to be completed according to existing regulations. The transaction is poised to occur, and Blackstone will become the new majority owner of Crown Resort gaming and entertainment complexes.

The Future Is Bright

Crown Resort has gone through challenging times, especially after inquiries into the misconducts reported concerning money laundering and tax evasion. As things stand, the Australian government allows the resort to continue operating under oversight from official representatives monitoring reform implementations. Blackstone is set to continue working with the government to implement all reforms and ensure legal operations according to existing gambling laws. For the casinos, change is coming, but Blackstone will probably take things slowly through the rebranding phase. Gamers can still enjoy fun experiences across Crown Resort complexes, so nothing is expected to change regarding available products and experiences. However, new ownership tends to come with management changes and shifts that may adjust a few things about the casinos. After more than two decades, the Packer family will no longer be part of Crown Resort, which may impact specific relationships built with other stakeholders and partners.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Blackstone was part of Crown Resort’s stakeholders before the takeover and had a healthy 10% stake in the company. The American company will now become the major stakeholder of the gambling giant and spell a time of change. Keep tabs on True Blue casino news for more about the impending Crown Resort takeover and other developing stories in the casino world.