Vegas giant’s $10b bid for Crown Casino empire
A Las Vegas resort empire has made a play for the James Packer-backed Crown Casino in a merger deal potentially worth $10 billion.
The local casino business confirmed on Tuesday it was in talks with Wynn Resorts, which has hotels in Las Vegas, Boston and Macau.
"Crown confirms that it is in confidential discussions with Wynn regarding a potential change of control transaction following approaches to Crown by Wynn," Crown said in a statement released to the ASX.
The company said the proposed merger would be completed through a combination of cash and Wynn shares.
"The discussions between Crown and Wynn are at a preliminary stage, and no agreement has been reached between the parties in relation to the structure, valuer terms of a transaction," said Crown.
Mr Packer's Consolidated Press Holdings company owns a 46.1 per cent stake in the Crown business.
The proposed deal from Wynn has an implied value of $14.75 per share, which represents a 25.6 per cent premium to the stock's $11.74 price before trade was paused ahead of the announcement.
Crown, with its stable of hotels in Melbourne, Perth, London and a luxury resort development in Sydney's Barangaroo due to be completed in 2021, would be a significant addition to the Wynn empire.
Crown has endured a turbulent three-year period in which it retreated from its expansion plans in Las Vegas and Macau, while 19 of its staff were arrested and jailed in 2017 for promoting gambling in China.
After the announcement of the proposed merger, the gambling firm's share value soared.
The shares surged by as much as 22 per cent to $14.33 and were still more than 20 per cent higher at 11.15am Sydney time.
Mr Packer quit the Crown board in March 2018 after a nightmare period for the third generation tycoon, which included a highly publicised split with Mariah Carey and legal dramas from his involvement in business deals in Macua.
The split came within days of the arrest of 19 of Mr Packer's Crown Resorts employees in Shanghai for allegedly chasing high roller gamblers.
Crown sold its interests in joint-venture casinos in Macau soon after. The Chinese Government, which deems gambling illegal, released the staffers and fined Crown $1.67m.
In February, the company reported a 26.7 per cent drop in first-half profit to $174.9 million.
- with AAP