James Packers’ Crown casino in takeover talks with Las Vegas’ Wynn Resorts

James Packer leaves the Crown Resorts AGM at the Crown Casino in Melbourne in 2017

James Packer leaves the Crown Resorts AGM at the Crown Casino in Melbourne in 2017

Perth's Burswood casino could be heading into overseas hands with James Packer's Crown Resorts revealing it in talks with USA gaming giant Wynn Resorts over a proposed $10 billion takeover of the Australian company. The announcement led to a double-digit jump in price in the shares of Crown Resorts, a firm listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Wynn was proposing to buy the company half in cash, half in shares, and the current proposal had not gone to the Crown board.

The company said today it was in talks with Wynn over a proposed $14.75-a-share cash and scrip takeover bid that would value Crown at about $10 billion. Crown Resorts added that the tabled proposition was "preliminary, confidential, non-binding and indicative".

"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, value or terms of a transaction", Crown Resorts said in a statement to the ASX.

A potential takeover deal was "subject to a number of conditions including due diligence, Wynn obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals and a recommendation by the Crown board", the document added. "There is no certainty that these discussions will result in a transaction", it added.

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It is understood Crown Resorts called in its bankers at UBS for advice about one month ago before rebuffing the approach. The hearing took place in the wake of an investigation into the board's handling of sexual assault allegations against founder Steve Wynn which saw the casino mogul stand down and sell off his entire stake in the company in early 2018.

The sale at the current proposed price would fetch about A$4.7 billion for Packer, who in addition to Crown quit 22 company directorships past year in a remarkable retreat for the scion of a family which had been a fixture of corporate Australia most of the 20th century. The privately held company has a 47-percent stake in Crown Resorts, according to media reports.

"Pricewise, you'd be looking for a little bit more than this", said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Perth-based Argonaut Ltd, a Crown shareholder.

Crown Resorts owns casinos in Melbourne, Perth and London.

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