Billionaire James Packer to sell 20% stake in Crown Resorts to Melco

FILE PHOTO: Australian Businessman and founder of Australia's Crown Ltd James Packer gestures while answering questions at an evening business event in Sydney October 25, 2012. REUTERS

HONG KONG/BENGALURU: Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd said on Thursday it would buy a 20% stake in Australia's Crown Resorts Ltd from casino mogul James Packer for A$1.76 billion ($1.22 billion), just months after Wynn Resorts withdrew its offer to buy Crown.

The deal with Wynn, the world's No. 2 casino operator, fell through in the beginning of April when details were leaked to the media, preventing a huge payout for Packer, who has been withdrawing from business life due to mental illness.

Packer's investment company, CPH Crown Holdings Pty Ltd, owns 47% holding in Crown Resorts.

In an interview with Reuters on Thursday, Melco's Chief Executive Officer Lawrence Ho said the stake was a great opportunity for Melco, which operates casinos across Asia, including in Macau and the Philippines.

"It is certainly our intention to continue if the opportunity arises to increase our stake in Crown," Ho said.

Melco and Crown ended their more than a decade-old partnership in 2017.

Crown Resorts was not immediately available for comment after market hours, while Wynn was not immediately available for comment.

Melco will buy 135.35 million shares of Crown Resorts for A$13 per share. The transaction will close in two equal tranches on June 6 and on or prior to Sept. 30, 2019, Melco said.

The offer represents a marginal premium of 0.6% to Crown's closing price of A$12.92 on Thursday and Melco intends to seek board representation in the Australian casino operator. - Reuters
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