Blackstone Group has revived its takeover offer for Crown Resorts—controlled by Australian billionaire James Packer—just weeks after Australian regulators placed the company under government supervision to undertake reforms to stamp out money laundering at its casino.
The U.S. private equity giant offered to buy Crown in a deal valuing the embattled casino operator at A$8.5 billion ($6.2 billion). The A$12.50 offer per share is Blackstone’s third attempt to take over the Australian company after Crown rejected its previous bids of A$11.85 in March and A$12.35 in May.
Crown said it has yet to form a view on the merits of Blackstone’s latest proposal. The company said it will assess the proposal and engage with relevant stakeholders including regulators.
“Any acquisition of Crown by Blackstone would be conditional on Blackstone receiving final approval from the casino regulators in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia,” Blackstone said Friday in a statement. The U.S. buyout firm currently owns 9.99% of Crown.
Last month, an independent inquiry by Victoria’s Royal Commission found Crown unsuitable to hold a casino license at its flagship Melbourne casino after failing to address money-laundering risks and concealing potential tax underpayment. However, the government decided to allow Crown to operate under the oversight and direction of a special manager for two years while the company implements comprehensive reforms.
Losing the Melbourne casino license would be a major blow to Crown, which has already failed to get the permit to run its brand new casino in Sydney. Apart from uncertainties arising from ongoing regulatory probes in Australia, Crown has said its earnings outlook will continue to be clouded by pandemic-induced travel restrictions and lockdowns.
Packer is the largest shareholder of Crown, which owns casinos in Australia and London, after taking over the empire of his late father, Kerry. He stepped down from the company’s board in March 2018 and resigned from the board of his family’s holding company Consolidated Press four months later. Packer, 54, had a net worth of $3.2 billion, according to the World Billionaire’s List published in April.