Aussie billionaire James Packer and his Crown Resorts have been in the limelight for the last week as the Melco Crown recently opened Studio City, a new casino estimated to be around $3.2 billion in Macau and had a grand opening inviting some of the biggest celebrities in the world. Crown Resorts is once again in the news this time around for investing $100 million to buy a 20% stake in Nobu, a globally known hotel and restaurant company.
The other eighty percent of Nobu is owned by a number of different investors including celebrity Robert De Niro, Meir Teper, Drew Nieporent and Nobu Matsuhisa. The recent acquisition of 20% of the company has also allowed Packer to be nominated to be one out of the four board of directors. The popular Japanese hotel and restaurant has branches in New York, California and Hawaii. The Nobu brand has also spread internationally and Nobu hotels and restaurants are located in places like Greece, Dubai, Malaysia, South Africa and Australia.
In a statement, Rob Rankin, Crown Chairman said “We see the Nobu brand as complementary to Crown Resorts’ global luxury entertainment positioning and the Nobu business has an attractive near-term growth profile, with a number of new restaurant and hotel openings planned. James Packer established Crown’s relationship with Nobu some years ago. Now we have Nobu restaurants in both Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth and a Nobu Hotel at City of Dreams – Manila”.
Crown Resorts has a pipeline full of projects which require huge investments and Moody’s Investors Service stated that the purchase of a 20% stake in Nobu would go down as a credit negative for the company. Apart from the $3.2 billion Studio City casino which just opened in Macau, Crown Resorts has already committed to a $2 billion mega-casino resort and hotel in Barangaroo precinct in Sydney, a 90 storey apartment and hotel complex in Southbank region of Melbourne which is estimated to be around $1.5 billion, and new projects expected to come up in Perth, Australia and Las Vegas, Nevada in the coming years.
Crown Resorts is expected to require funding that exceeds $6 billion in the coming years and investors are concerned about the amount of funding that needs to be raised. Once news broke of Crown’s $100 million purchase in Nobu, the company’s shares fell to A$11.47 which was a 1.7% drop, bringing the total drop in share prices in 2015 to 9.6%.