US-based private equity giant The Blackstone Group has upped the ante in its bid to takeover Crown Resorts, presenting an increased proposal that values the Australian casino operator at almost AU$9 billion (US$6.5 billion).
Crown said Thursday that it has received a revised non-binding proposal from Blackstone to acquire all shares by way of a scheme of arrangement at a price of AU$13.10 cash per share – increased from its previous offer price of AU$12.50 cash per share. The revised proposal is said to be in response to information provided by Crown during initial due diligence.
Having already considered the new proposal, Crown said it believes it is now in the interests of shareholders to engage further with Blackstone on a non-exclusive basis and provide it the opportunity to finalise its due diligence inquiries. A binding offer is expected to follow negotiations over an Implementation Agreement.
“Should Blackstone make a binding offer at a price of no less than AU$13.10 cash per share then, subject to the parties entering into a binding Implementation Agreement on terms and conditions acceptable to Crown, it is the Crown Board’s current unanimous intention to recommend that shareholders vote in favor of the proposal in the absence of a superior proposal and subject to an Independent Expert concluding (and continuing to conclude) that the proposed transaction is in the best interests of Crown shareholders,” Crown said.
Blackstone’s latest proposal is its fourth such attempt to takeover Crown, having launched an initial bid of AU$11.85 per share early last year and a AU$12.35 per share offer soon after. Crown knocked back those offers in May, claiming they undervalued the company’s assets and future earnings power.
Blackstone already holds a 9.99% stake in Crown which it acquired from Melco Resorts & Entertainment in April 2020. Melco had purchased the 9.99% stake from James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings a year earlier but backed out of a deal to purchase a second tranche after regulators in New South Wales launched an independent inquiry, which ultimately led to the NSW regulator finding Crown unsuitable to hold a NSW casino licenses in February 2021.
Blackstone was one of two major international investment groups to express an interest in Crown in 2021, while rival casino operator Star Entertainment Group withdrew a merger proposal in July.