The previously announced plan from Crown Resorts Limited that was to see the Australian casino operator cleave off major parts of its international business by April has reportedly been delayed following the arrest of 18 of its employees in China.
According to a report from The Australian newspaper, the proposal first publicized in June was set to see Melbourne-based Crown Resorts Limited spin off its 27% interest in Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, which it owns in partnership with Hong Kong-listed Melco International Development Limited, along with its 50% holding in United Kingdom casino firm Aspers into a separate vehicle.
The Sydney-listed firm behind the Crown Casino And Entertainment Complex in Victoria revealed in June that the distinct spun-off enterprise, which was to additionally contain its investments in the Alon Las Vegas development alongside its 20% holding in the Nobu restaurant chain and its interest in giant gaming group Caesars Entertainment Corporation, was then to be independently listed.
Crown Resorts Limited, in which entrepreneur James Packer serves as the major shareholder, explained that the plan subsequently called for it to retain a 51% interest in the new separately-listed entity as well as its ownership of the Crown Aspinall’s casino in London. It was thought that the plan was, in part, an attempt by the Australian firm to insulate its more profitable domestic business from its under-performing properties in Macau, where aggregated VIP revenues are expected to finish the year 15% lower year-on-year.
But, the newspaper reported that this plan is now set to take longer than the nine months initially announced by Rowen Craigie, Chief Executive Officer for Crown Resorts Limited, following the arrests for “gambling crimes” in October of the employees, which included Jason O’Connor, who works as the firm’s VIP International Executive General Manager, as well as fellow Australian nationals Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan.
Ironically, The Australian reported that the arrests have been a somewhat of a fillip for Crown Resorts Limited’s share price as it has risen from around $16 in mid-October to over $19 while the company received a further boost earlier this week with news that Victorian gaming machine expenditure for October had increased by 2.1% year-on-year.