US private equity giant The Blackstone Group has received regulatory approval from two of the three Australian regulatory bodies required to complete its acquisition of Crown Resorts Ltd.
Crown made the announcement early Thursday, confirming that both the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) and the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) had approved the scheme of arrangement that is to see Blackstone acquire all shares in the Australian casino operator for AU$8.9 billion (US$6.5 billion).
However, the Scheme, which has also been given the green light by Crown shareholders, still remains subject to the approval of the Western Australian regulator and the Federal Court of Australia.
In an announcement of its own, the VGCCC said Blackstone had been deemed a suitable associate of Melbourne’s casino operator but said both firms would still be required to ensure the strengthening of Crown’s governance, enhanced reporting of anti-money laundering and responsible gambling activities, implementation of new role requirements for Crown Melbourne’s CEO and key executives, including non-interference requirements, and improved information sharing with law enforcement agencies among other conditions.
Crown Melbourne will also still have to operate under its appointed Special Manager and undergo the Commission’s suitability assessment in 2024 in order to retain its licence.
“In reaching this decision, our specialist team put in many months of work investigating the suitability of the Blackstone Group to become an associate of the Melbourne casino operator,” said VGCCC Chairperson Fran Thorn.
“Our approval comes with stringent conditions which balance delivering stronger controls on the casino and ensuring it continues to be the flagship casino in Australia. We will take action should any of these conditions not be met by either Blackstone or Crown.”