Gaming giant Crown Resorts is being targeted for a takeover after a US investment fund made an unsolicited offer.
The non-binding offer received on Sunday proposes an offer price of $11.85 cash per share, equating to about $8 billion.
Crown shares closed at $9.86 on Friday, valuing the group at $6.7 billion.
The offer represents a premium of 19 per cent to Crown’s weighted average share price in the weeks since it released its first-half results.
“The Crown board has not yet formed a view on the merits of the proposal,” it said in a statement.
Blackstone’s indicative offer carries a number of conditions, including that it be recommended unanimously by the Crown board.
It also wants regulatory confirmation a future Blackstone-owned Crown is deemed a suitable person to hold the target’s Sydney casino gaming licence.
Blackstone already holds 9.99 per cent of Crown, which it bought from Melco Resorts & Entertainment in April 2020 for $8.15 per share.
The offer came as Victoria’s royal commission into Crown casino is due to begin.
The inquiry, to be chaired by former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein QC, will hold an opening hearing on Wednesday at 10am.
It is expected to run for an hour and will be live-streamed.
The inquiry will look at whether Crown has broken the law and if it is suitable to hold a gaming licence in Victoria.
It follows a judicial inquiry in NSW, which in February found Crown was unfit to run a casino at its newly built Barangaroo complex in Sydney.
Headed by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, that inquiry found the company facilitated money laundering at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.
Additionally, it found Crown put its staff in China in danger of being detained and dealt with junket operators it knew were involved in organised crime.
The Western Australian government has announced its own inquiry into the allegations.
Lawyers Adrian Finanzio SC, Penny Neskovcin QC, Meg O’Sullivan and Geoffrey Kozminsky have been appointed counsel assisting for the Victorian inquiry, which is expected to cost up to $7 million.
Mr Finkelstein will have until August 1 to report back to the government with recommendations.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has indicated he is prepared to tear up Crown’s casino licence if it is recommended.