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Crown saga ends at last as Blackstone cleans up with $8.9 billion bid

Business

Crown Resorts boss Steve McCann is confident Blackstone’s takeover of the casino group will not be stymied by Australian regulators after terms for the deal were agreed.

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Under the proposal, Blackstone will buy all of the listed shares in Crown for $13.10 cash each, valuing the Melbourne based group at $8.9 billion.

This compares to a closing price of $12.39 on Friday, when it was valued at $8.4 billion.

Crown Chair Ziggy Switkowski said the board unanimously recommended Blackstone’s offer, subject to certain conditions including that no better offer emerged.

Those conditions include approval from regulators, which have heavily criticised the group recently for failing to prevent criminal activity at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

Mr McCann on Monday told an investor teleconference that Blackstone had been gauging regulators’ support for the takeover.

“(Blackstone) has had discussions over a bit of time with the various regulators and we’re not aware of any concerns,” he said.

Crown retained its Melbourne licence despite a Victorian royal commission last year finding repeated breaches of money laundering controls and other failings.

A Western Australian royal commission is due to give its final report by March 4.

Shareholders will also have a say on the proposal.

They are expected to vote in the second quarter of the calendar year.

Mr McCann said the price offered reflected the value of Crown’s assets and its global reputation for premium service and experiences.

“The agreement with Blackstone also highlights the strength of the Crown brand and confidence in our future as we emerge from some challenging times,” he added.

Blackstone first approached Crown in March 2021, when it offered $11.85 cash per share.

The transaction is subject to Foreign Investment Review Board and gaming regulator approval, pending the receipt by the board of an independent expert report concluding the offer is in the best interests of shareholders.

James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings is the biggest shareholder and has a 36.8 per cent stake.

Blackstone already has a stake of about 10 per cent.

Crown is due to release first-half earnings on Thursday.

Shares in the company on the ASX were up two per cent to $12.65 at 1143 AEDT.

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