(Reuters) – Troubled Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd said on Monday it had received a conditional purchase proposal from US private equity giant Blackstone, sending its shares up 19%.
The indicative proposition comes as casinos and gaming operators around the world have seen values plummet as coronavirus locks hit earnings, putting them on the radar of cashed investment firms.
Crown has suffered more than most after a year-long regulatory investigation issued allegations of money laundering and governance failures at the company, resulting in the loss of its gaming license for its new A $ Sydney casino. 2.2 billion last month.
Senior executives, including its chief executive, have since resigned, paving the way for Crown to repair its reputation and regain its license with former federal communications minister and president Helen Coonan leading the review.
Crown said Blackstone’s proposal was AU $ 11.85 per share, a 20.2% premium over the company’s last closing price, and that it was valued at A $ 8.02 billion ($ 6.2 billion).
Its shares rose to A $ 11,750 on news of the proposal on Monday, their highest level in a year. The shares fell nearly 20% in 2020 as the investigation revealed major flaws in the company’s governance.
Blackstone currently owns a 10% stake in Crown, which it bought from Macau’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment in April last year for just A $ 8.15 per share, and is the second-largest shareholder after billionaire founder James Packer.
The company’s board of directors had not yet formed an opinion on the offering, which was subject to conditions including due diligence, arranging for debt financing, and Blackstone’s receipt of gambling approvals to allow it to operate. Crown’s licenses in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, the company said in a statement.
Blackstone recently acquired the Bellagio in Las Vegas for $ 4.25 billion, and it also owns a casino complex called “The Cosmopolitan” in Las Vegas and the Spanish operator Cirsa.
($ 1 = 1.2967 Australian dollars)
Report from Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Diane Craft and Stephen Coates