PACKER TO POCKET $448M IN CROWN SHARE SALE

PACKER TO POCKET $448M IN CROWN SHARE SALE

JAMES Packer is giving up majority control of Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) after his private company Consolidated Press Holdings revealed it was selling a 4.8 per cent stake in the Melbourne-based casino group.

Packer is selling 35 million shares at 12.,80 each to an undisclosed party to raise $448 million.

The move is understood to be part of a separation of the Packer family wealth between James Packer and his sister Gretel, which was announced last year.

However, the move also comes on the heels of major changes at Crown, including a proposed demerger of the company to create a property trust for its Melbourne and Perth hotel properties.

The demerger has been rumoured to be a precursor to a possible privatisation of Crown.

Despite the sale, Consolidated Press has affirmed that it is 'deeply committed' to Crown Resorts in the wake of the sale.

It will retain a 48.2 per cent interest in the company following the sale and remains the company's largest shareholder.

Crown posed a net profit of $948.8 million in FY16, with the result boosted by a $552.5 million gain from the sale of its interest in the Melco Crown Entertainment joint venture in Macau.

However, on a normalised basis the net profit of $406.2 million was down 22.7 per cent as the casino market across Asia softened, impacting the VIP business.

Shares in Crown fell 1.5 per cent following news of Packer's selldown, closing 20c lower at $13.32 in a broadly weaker market.

The break-up of the Packer family fortune elevated Gretel Packer onto the BRW Rich List for the first time this year, with her fortune estimated at $739 million. James Packer's wealth is estimated at $5 billion.

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