|Bid||11.89 x 88100|
|Ask||11.90 x 182600|
|Day's range||11.81 - 11.98|
|52-week range||7.73 - 12.29|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.03|
|PE ratio (TTM)||N/A|
|Earnings date||18 Feb 2021|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-dividend date||19 Mar 2020|
|1y target est||13.60|
(Bloomberg) -- Blackstone Group Inc. offered to buy Crown Resorts Ltd. in an A$8.02 billion ($6.2 billion) deal, pouncing on the troubled Australian casino operator while it’s under assault from domestic regulators.The New York-based private equity firm, which already owns 10% of Crown, bid A$11.85 a share in cash for the rest of the company, Crown said Monday. Crown is assessing the proposal and its stock soared 21% to A$11.97 at the close of trade in Sydney, indicating investors expect a higher bid or a rival suitor.Crown was last month found unfit to run its new Sydney casino after years of money laundering at other properties, and faces inquiries into its suitability to own casinos in Melbourne and Perth. But if Crown’s planned corporate makeover can appease regulators, the prize for Blackstone is clear: casino monopolies in two Australian cities and a gleaming A$2.2 billion resort on Sydney’s waterfront.With a decades-long history of hotel and gaming investments, Blackstone is now doubling down on one of the industries hit hardest by the pandemic -- just as vaccines fuel hopes of a travel and leisure recovery. Last week, Blackstone teamed up with Starwood Capital Group and struck a $6 billion deal for hotel operator Extended Stay America Inc. In 2019, Blackstone agreed to buy the Bellagio casino and resort in Las Vegas for $4.25 billion.For James Packer, Crown’s largest shareholder with a 36% stake, Blackstone’s offer represents a fresh chance to exit Crown after at least two failed attempts to find a suitor. February’s damning exposure of widespread management and cultural failings at Crown was just the latest blow for the billionaire, who has stepped back from corporate life to fight a mental-health battle.Before Blackstone’s offer, Crown shares had almost halved from a high of A$18 in early 2014. They’ve been pummeled by a series of dramas, including a 2016 legal crackdown in mainland China, an aborted takeover and the Covid-19 pandemic.The risk for Blackstone is that it’s left owning a company hamstrung by fresh regulatory action. Last month’s New South Wales inquiry said Crown needed to overhaul its management, governance and culture before gaming operations could start in Sydney. Chief Executive Officer Ken Barton and five other directors have since quit.The investigation found that Crown “enabled and facilitated” money laundering through bank accounts tied to its Perth and Melbourne casinos for at least five years before 2019. The report heaped criticism on the relationship between Crown and Packer’s investment company: reporting lines were blurred, risks weren’t identified, and conflicts or potential conflicts weren’t recognized.Read more: Packer’s Casino Dream Dashed as Crown Seen Unfit for LicenseA spokesperson for the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority said Monday the regulator was aware of the takeover approach, but is “not in a position to comment on any potential outcomes.”A probe starts Wednesday into Crown’s suitability to run its Melbourne casino and a separate investigation into Crown Perth will also take place this year. That means Blackstone could be the new owner of a company that’s barred -- temporarily, at least -- from operating its three Australian casinos.“That’s a material risk to consider,” said Xinning Xiao, a senior lecturer in accounting at Monash Business School in Melbourne who specializes in corporate governance. “The restructuring may take years.”Representatives for the gaming regulators in Victoria and Western Australia had no immediate comment on Blackstone’s potential ownership of Crown.What Bloomberg Opinion says:By bringing in its own management to run the show -- the normal course of business for most private equity takeovers -- Blackstone would automatically be carrying out the wholesale management restructuring that Crown will likely need if it’s to hold onto its gaming licenses following a damning money laundering inquiry.--David Fickling. To read the column, click herePrevious efforts to reach a deal involving Crown have come to nothing.Wynn Resorts Ltd. in early 2019 abruptly ended talks to buy Crown for about A$10 billion, just a few hours after the discussions leaked to the media. Last year, Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. scrapped a deal to buy 20% of Crown from Packer.Analysts at Macquarie Group Ltd. said late last year a merger of Crown with Sydney rival Star Entertainment Group Ltd. could hypothetically “create significant shareholder value,” even though neither company had publicly addressed the idea.A representative for Packer’s private investment company declined to comment on Blackstone’s approach.Blackstone wants unanimous approval from Crown’s board before the deal can go ahead, as well as permission from regulators to own and operate Crown’s casinos, according to the statement.Blackstone bought its current stake in Crown from Melco last year for A$8.15 a share.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2021 Bloomberg L.P.
After four years of construction, Sydneysiders finally get to experience one of the world's great hotels and its accompanying world-class dining and bar precinct, as select Crown Sydney venues are open to the public for the first time from December 28.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Why did it take media reporting to get Australia’s money laundering investigators to start looking into casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd.?Shares in the gambling company previously controlled by billionaire James Packer slumped 8.2% Monday after it said the country’s financial-crimes regulator Austrac had started a probe into the handling of “high risk and politically exposed” individuals at its Melbourne casino. The investigation started two months after Nine Entertainment Co. newspapers published a series of articles about the activities of high-rolling Chinese gamblers at Crown’s properties.It’s the latest in a string of prominent cases led by Austrac, after a A$45 million ($32 million) award against racetrack betting operator Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. in 2017, a A$700 million penalty against Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2018, and a A$1.3 billion settlement with Westpac Banking Corp. last month.That’s quite a turnaround. For much of its 31-year history, Austrac has been a pretty somnolent organization, tending its ballooning database of suspicious transactions reported by compliance officers without carrying out much of the aggressive enforcement that you might expect. Just look back at the cases that Austrac has brought over the years. Until recently, the majority of actions involved nickel-and-dime businesses like a pub in southern Brisbane or a cafe in western Sydney.That’s clearly not going to do the job. Money laundering, by its nature, requires moving large volumes of either physical or digital cash. That means regulators need to be laser-focused on the activities of the companies that trade the largest volumes of those assets — casinos, in the case of notes and coins, and financial businesses, in the case of electronic transactions.“Until recently they were showing all the symptoms of a regulator who’d been captured by the industry they were supposed to regulate,” John Chevis, an independent anti-money laundering consultant, said by phone. The string of recent cases shows that things have at last started to change. Paul Jevtovic, a former police officer who took over at Austrac in 2014 before joining HSBC Plc’s compliance department in 2017, pushed the regulator toward a more proactive culture and kicked off the Tabcorp and the Commonwealth Bank investigations. Still, it’s clear that the agency is some way from being as aggressive as it should be. Last year’s media reports aren’t the first time that public accusations about money laundering breaches have been made against Crown. Independent legislator Andrew Wilkie in 2017 told parliament that casino staff exploited loopholes to avoid disclosing reportable transactions to Austrac (Crown denied the claims).Better funding and collaboration with other agencies would probably help. The number of suspicious transactions reported to Austrac has more than tripled over the past five years, but funding from government and its own paid-for activities is only up by about a third. As it is, the regulator’s relatively small staff is stretched to sort through all the information they’re receiving. Extracting legal penalties from large companies is even more expensive.Meanwhile, criminals aren’t standing still. The latest avenue for money laundering is probably over- and under-invoicing of traded goods, but that’s even harder to track. Unlike cash laundering, which involves a relatively small number of casinos and financial businesses, invoice-based laundering can take place between almost any two companies in the world.Austrac’s gradual shift toward a more active stance in recent years is welcome, but it will need to go still further. If you want to hunt rats, it’s no good hanging out in your kitchen. Going down into the sewers may be a thankless task, but it’s the only way to get the job done.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.