James Packer has sold almost half his stake in Crown Resorts for $1.76 billion to a Macau-based entertainment company.
Consolidated Press Holdings, Mr Packer’s private investment company, confirmed on Thursday night it had sold 19.99 per cent of its shareholding in Crown Resorts to Melco Resorts and Entertainment, with which it formerly had a joint venture.
In a statement, the billionaire businessman and son of media mogul Kerry Packer said Crown would remain a “massive” part of his life, adding that his continuing shareholding remained his single largest investment.
The stake was sold for an aggregate purchase price of $1.76 billion, equivalent to $13 per share.
Once the share sale is completed, CPH will own about 26 per cent of Crown, worth about $2.3 billion, and will remain represented on the Crown board.
Crown and Melco jointly opened the Crown Macau complex in 2007, before Crown pulled out of the partnership in 2017.
Mr Packer said Crown was a stronger company with Melco as a strategic shareholder.
“Crown has been a massive part of my life for the last 20 years and that absolutely remains the case today – my continuing Crown shareholding represents my single largest investment,” Mr Packer said of the deal.
“I am still vitally interested in Crown’s success as a world-class resort and gaming business. The sale allows me to continue my long-term involvement with Crown and at the same time to better diversify my investment portfolio.”
BREAKING: James Packer has sold 20% of Crown to Melco Resorts for $1.76b. Leaves CPH with 26%, and a position on the board. pic.twitter.com/JlQS7jXwWg
— Chris Reason (@ChrisReason7) May 30, 2019
CPH will lodge a Notice of Change in Substantial Holding both with Crown and the Australian Securities Exchange.
Once the sale is approved by Australian regulators, Melco has signalled it is likely to look to increase its stake in Crown.
“Additionally, subject to obtaining requisite regulatory approvals, Melco welcomes the opportunity to increase its ownership in Crown,” the company said in a statement to the US Nasdaq stock exchange.
Mr Packer came close to selling Crown Resorts in April before American casino giant Wynn Resorts abruptly abandoned its reported $10 billion takeover bid.
Just hours after confirming it was in talks to buy the $2.2 billion Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, Wynn Resorts removed its cash-and-stock takeover proposal off the table, citing a leak of the deal details.
Mr Packer resigned from Crown’s board in March last year, with sources close to the Australian billionaire telling Nine Network newspapers that he had been “disengaged from the business for some time” and was ready to sell.