Crown receives $8 billion takeover bid from Blackstone

Crown receives $8 billion takeover bid from Blackstone

Embattled casino and hotel operator Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN) has received a takeover bid from American investment management company Blackstone today.

The deal would see Blackstone acquire all of the shares in Crown for $11.85 cash per share, valuing the company at close to $8 billion.

The proposed price represents a premium of 19 per cent to the average price of Crown shares since the release of its 1H FY21 results.

Blackstone is already a minority shareholder in Crown, currently holding a 9.99 per cent interest in the casino operator that it acquired from Melco Resorts for $8.15 per share in April 2020.

The deal is still subject to due diligence and a unanimous recommendation from the Crown board.

In a statement to the ASX, the Crown board confirmed it had not yet formed a view on the merits of the proposal.

"It will now commence a process to assess the proposal, having regard to the value and terms of the proposal and other considerations," Crown said.

"Crown shareholders do not need to take any action in relation to the proposal at this stage."

Blackstone's proposal follows a string of bad news for Crown, stemming from a scathing report commissioned by New South Wales' Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) that concluded the company was "unsuitable" to hold a casino licence in the state.

The Bergin Report was taken up by the ILGA, which officially determined Crown was not suitable to be given a casino licence for its new $2.2 billion Barangaroo tower in Sydney.

The report triggered a mass overhaul of the company's executive and board, including the stepping down of Crown CEO Ken Barton.

In addition, former AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou, three James Packer-linked executives, and businessman Harold Mitchell all resigned in the wake of the Bergin report.

Just four directors remain at Crown, including executive chairman Helen Coonan, deputy chairman John Horvath, and directors Sarah Halton and Antonia Korsanos.

The findings in NSW also sparked action from regulators in Victoria and Western Australia - the other two states Crown operates in.

In late-February the Victorian Government launched a Royal Commission into whether Crown Melbourne is suitable to hold a casino licence in the state.

Raymond Finkelstein QC was appointed to investigate the suitability of Crown Melbourne and its associates - including the Crown Resorts parent company - to hold a licence, with an expected release of recommendations by 1 August this year.

Following that, Western Australia announced its own Royal Commission into Crown over allegations of junkets and facilitating money laundering.

The Western Australian Royal Commission will have three commissioners - Lindy Jenkins, Colin Murphy and Neville Owen, with the latter as chair.

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