James Packer’s privately held investment arm, Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd. (CPH), has announced the billionaire has agreed to sell 35 million shares—representing about 4.8 percent of Crown’s issued share capital—at A$12.80 apiece for a total of A$448 million.
Packer, who stepped down from his chairman post at Crown Resorts last year, will still own about 48.2 percent of the business through Consolidated Press after the sale, and will remain the biggest shareholder.
The sale comes two months after Crown announced plans to spin off its international investments, including a US$2 billion stake in Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment. Crown is also exploring an initial public offering of 49 per cent of a property trust for some of its Australian hotels.
According to The Australian Financial Review, the sale follows a review of Consolidated Press’s finances after Mr Packer’s A$1.25 billion settlement last year with his sister Gretel Packer. CPH group legal counsel and company secretary Catherine Davies said the group ‘‘remains deeply committed to Crown Resorts and is excited about the future for the company. The sale is being conducted as part of CPH’s financing and capital management strategy.”
US$4.2 BILLION WYNN PALACE OFF TO A SLOW START
The Wynn Palace, the most expensive property yet from billionaire Steve Wynn, opened on August 22 amidst a gambling slump in Macau.
International media service Bloomberg’s reported the Macau resort as drawing lacklustre numbers of new tourists and said it may be taking business from the other Wynn casino on the Macau peninsula as well as other local rivals.
Betting in the former Portuguese colony has fallen by 36 percent over the past two years after a government crackdown on corruption on mainland China prompted a sharp drop in business. Wynn and other casino operators have said they believe new casinos will attract more tourists to the region.
The “over the top” 1,700-room resort features a multi-million dollar floral sculpture by pop artist Jeff Koons, a US$100 million ‘dancing waters show and a spa that offers a US$450 facial using gold leaf and crushed diamonds.
Unlike competitors such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson and MGM Resorts International Chairman Jim Murren, who have said they believe a turnaround is under way in Macau, Wynn was more cautious in an interview before the new casino’s opening
“The last two places that opened did not cause the market to grow, did they? No. Will this one? Good question,” Wynn said. “We’ll get an answer to that in September or October. I’m anxious to see it myself.”
Wynn Resorts shares are down 6.6 percent since the casino’s opening, while the Macau unit fell 8.6 percent over the period.