Update: Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) has issued a statement (see below) denying any plans to privatize.
Australia’s third richest man, billionaire James Packer, wants to privatise casino operator Crown Resorts. According to sources close to the businessman, he has been courting cashed-up buy-out firms and wealth funds to raise approximately $5 billion, money he would need in order to be able to go through with his plan.
The company’s market value is estimated at AUS$8.9 billion ($6.2 billion) and Packer’s CPH owns 53% of it. However, an anonymous source revealed that there still hasn’t been a final deal as the shares of the gambling empire continue to fall. Since February, 2015, Crown’s shares have dropped for 33%.
Packer’s private investment vehicle released a statement confirming that there were privatisation talks indeed. The company, however, didn’t specify a timeframe around the talks and possible outcome. The statement simply revealed that “from time to time” the entity had confidential discussions with third parties regarding CPH’s investments “including its shareholding in Crown Resorts.” Michael Johnston, CPH’s finance director, explained that the talks weren’t an indication that any proposal “that has been the subject of the media speculation” would be made by the company.
According to the source close to Packer, the businessman may want to change the entire structure of his empire in order to provide a better value proposition. Reportedly, the outcome Packer wanted to achieve the most was a full privatisation.
The billionaire held the chairmen position of Crown Resorts until August, 2015, when he stepped down in order to focus on the company’s new projects; he is now a director of the company.
Michael Neilson, Crown’s general counsel, stated that the operator was unaware of any proposal for “a possible joint bid for Crown.” He pointed out that, despite media speculation, the company didn’t receive any such proposals from any party.
“From time to time CPH has confidential discussions with third parties regarding CPH’s investments, including its shareholding in Crown Resorts,” finance director for CPH, Michael Johnston said. “[This] should not be taken as any indication that any proposal of the nature that has been the subject of the media speculation will be made by CPH in the future.”
Sources still contend the assertion is true.