Blackstone offer may seal Crown takeover



Private equity group Blackstone has increased its bid for Crown Resorts and this time the casino operator looks likely to accept.

Blackstone raised its bid by 60 cents per share to $13.10 per share, which equates to an $8.87 billion proposal.

Crown on Thursday said it was in shareholders’ interests to discuss the offer further and the company will encourage Blackstone to make a binding bid.

If Blackstone made a binding offer of the same value or more, Crown said its board would unanimously recommend investors accept.

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

Blackstone has a stake of almost 10 per cent.

Forager Funds Management chief investment officer Steve Johnson said a deal was likely to be done.

He said Crown was worth more to private equity than it was to ASX investors.

Big fund managers would not buy significant numbers of casino shares due to environmental, social and governance concerns, Mr Johnson said.

Any deal would require approval from several groups. These include a third-party expert assessing the proposal on behalf of investors, and casino regulators in Victoria, NSW and Western Australia.

There are no other groups vying to buy Crown. Star Entertainment Group and asset manager Oaktree Capital last year made unsuccessful bids.

Crown Resorts has struggled in recent years due to the pandemic and anti-money laundering lapses.

Crown shares on the ASX were up 7.95 per cent to $12.55 at 1143 AEDT.


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