AUSTRAC expands investigation into Crown suitor Star casino

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On Thursday, the James Packer-backed Crown received an $8.9 billion offer from private equity group Blackstone, which has the backing of Crown’s board.

The Star withdrew its $12 billion merger offer last year as Crown’s licenses for its Melbourne and Perth casinos were threatened by royal commissions investigating criminal activity by its clients and other malpractice, but it has said it is still is interested in combining the two casino outfits.

The Star’s investigation by ILGA was sparked by allegations of similar governance violations.

“The Star withdrew its conditional, non-binding indicative proposal to merge with Crown on July 23, 2021,” a Star Entertainment spokesperson said on Thursday.

“As we’ve consistently said since then, The Star remains open to exploring potential value-enhancing opportunities with Crown.”

Mr Packer’s private company, CPH, also appears to be hoping for competing bidders like The Star in response to Blackstone’s latest bid.

“Crown Resorts’ assets are world-class and this is reflected in the significant interest in the company,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Morningstar analyst Angus Hewitt noted that the Crown board’s unanimous support for the Blackstone bid doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion.

“The increased offer is non-binding and remains subject to the completion of due diligence, shareholder support, unanimous board approval, final approval from Blackstone’s investment committees and approval from state gaming regulators.”

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