Friday, 19 April, 2019

Wynn makes $7.1 billion buyout play for Australian casino giant Crown

Crown Resorts talking about takeover offer from Vegas' Wynn Wynn makes $7.1 billion buyout play for Australian casino giant Crown
Priscilla Morrison | 10 April, 2019, 01:27

Wynn Resorts Ltd. abruptly ended talks to buy Australian billionaire James Packer's Crown Resorts Ltd. for A$9.99 billion ($7.13 billion), just a few hours after the discussions were made public.

"It's a preliminary-style bid which doesn't yet provide an adequate premium for control, and most would expect there to be both more debate about the strategic merit and pricing", said Angus Gluskie, managing director of White Funds Management, which also holds Crown shares.

The filing stated that Crown Resorts' board had "not yet considered" the "most recent proposal" from Wynn Resorts.

Crown had said the talks were at a preliminary stage, and that the companies had not agreed on a value or deal structure, adding that the proposal had not gone to the board.

Crown Resorts confirmation followed a report on the deal by the Australian Financial Review, published on Monday.

Crown had earlier confirmed that it was in acquisition talks with Wynn.

Unlike its competitors who already have footholds elsewhere in Asia - from Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s Singapore resort to Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd.'s City of Dreams in Manila - Wynn is now confined to Macau, where expansion is approaching its limit.

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A Wynn spokesman declined to comment.

In 2016, 19 of its staff members were arrested in China on charges of illegally promoting gambling. "The proposal now contemplates acquisition consideration (50-percent cash and 50-percent Wynn shares) with an implied value of AUD14.75 per share with the exchange ratio being fixed, using a volume weighted average price for Wynn shares, immediately prior to the announcement of an agreed transaction".

The sale at the current proposed price would fetch about A$4.7 billion for Packer, who in addition to Crown quit 22 company directorships past year in a remarkable retreat for the scion of a family which had been a fixture of corporate Australia most of the 20th century.

"I was surprised and the United States folks were surprised", the person said.

Soon afterward, Crown signaled a retreat from worldwide expansion plans that included Las Vegas and Macau. It was announced in March previous year Mr Packer was resigning from the casino operator's board "for personal reasons".

Crown is undergoing a period of restructuring, which has included selling land in Las Vegas, its stake in Macau's Melco Resorts & Entertainment and its share of betting comapany CrownBet.

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