Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Crown confirms US$7.1bln Wynn Resorts takeover talks

Wynn Resorts was founded by Steve Wynn in 2002 Camera Icon Wynn Resorts was founded by Steve Wynn in 2002
Russell Knight | 10 April, 2019, 06:37

Wynn Resorts says it has ceased its pursuit of Crown Resorts after news of a potential US$7.1 billion acquisition of the Australian casino operator broke on Tuesday morning.

Both companies had previously confirmed the talks.

Before heading back to Washington following his trip to the U.S. -Mexico border in California over the weekend, President Donald Trump made a brief stop in Las Vegas.

Packer and Wynn, who stepped down as CEO of Wynn Resorts in 2018, know each other well.

Shares of Wynn were down 3.2 percent at $140.23 at mid-morning in NY.

Crown said the talks with Wynn were at a preliminary stage and no agreement on value or structure had been reached. "There is no certainty that these discussions will result in a transaction", Crown said.

Crown, which owns casinos in Melbourne, Perth and London and will soon open another in Sydney, revealed that the offer had an implied value of $14.75 per share, to be paid 50 per cent in cash and 50 per cent in Wynn shares.

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Wynn's shares were down 3.5 percent after the termination, while Crown Resorts shares closed almost 20 percent higher at A$14.05, but below the proposed buyout price of A$14.75.

Yesterday, it was revealed that Crown was in talks with Wynn Resorts, which has hotels in Las Vegas, Boston and Macau.

The offer came as Crown is grappling with the effects of an economic slowdown in China, which has crimped revenue from high-rolling Chinese gamblers at its Australian tables. The chain's founder, Steve Wynn, resigned as chairman and chief executive in February 2018 after claims of sexual misconduct, and has sold his stake in the company.

A sale would mark an end to Crown 47-percent owner James Packer's 12-year foray into casinos after he re-badged his father's media empire as a gambling concern in 2007.

In 2016, 19 of its staff members were arrested in China on charges of illegally promoting gambling. A court jailed 16 of the defendants, including three Australian citizens, for nine-to-10 months, with the remaining three released after around a month in detention.

For Crown's 47-percent owner James Packer, who re-badged his father's media empire as a gambling concern in 2007 only to withdraw from business engagements past year due to mental illness, the deal would have ended his career as a casino mogul with a A$4.7 billion payout.

Unlike its competitors who already have footholds elsewhere in Asia - from Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s Singapore resort to Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd.'s City of Dreams in Manila - Wynn is now confined to Macau, where expansion is approaching its limit.

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