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Crown Resorts agreed to start exclusive talks with Blackstone Group after the US private equity group softened its offer to buy the pressured Australian games company for around AU $ 8.9 billion (AU $ 6.5 billion billion US dollars).

The revised offer values ​​Crown at A $ 13.10 per share, up A $ 0.60 per share or about A $ 1 billion in additional cash compared to a previous offer made by Blackstone to the casino industry. , backed by Australian billionaire James Packer, in November.

The latest offer comes after the board of directors of the games company last year rejected several offers from the American buyout group, which already owns 9.99% of Crown.

Crown has been at the center of a bidding war between Blackstone and the small rival of the Star Entertainment casinos since May, which has pursued a merger.

Star withdrew her interest in July when Australian authorities said Crown could potentially lose its gaming license following an investigation into money laundering charges. That threat was lifted in September after the investigation ended, and Sydney-based Star continued to express interest in relaunching its A $ 12 billion merger plan.

Blackstone will complete its due diligence in the next few days and if it decides to make a firm offer with as much as AU $ 13.10 per share, the offer will be unanimously accepted by the board of directors of Crown, the company. australian said in a press release.

The deal highlights Blackstone’s continued interest in owning casinos as the private equity investor agreed in 2019 to acquire the real estate assets of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from MGM for $ 4, $ 25 billion.

Blackstone first contacted Crown after Australian regulators ruled in early 2021 that the games company was unfit to operate a new A $ 2.2 billion casino complex in Sydney due to concerns regarding money laundering and bad corporate governance.

The deal also highlights the continued interest of global investors in seizing Australian assets despite the pandemic.

The Australian market has been one of the busiest for transactions over the past year, thanks to cheap funding and private capital targeting listed assets ranging from telecommunications to airports to the funds themselves.

About Alma Ackerman

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