All in: Australia’s Crown Resorts backs $6.3 bln Blackstone offer

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd adorns a hotel and casino complex in Melbourne, Australia, June 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed

(Reuters) – Crown Resorts Ltd (CWN.AX) said on Monday it will back a A$8.87 billion ($6.3 billion) binding takeover offer from U.S. private equity firm Blackstone Inc (BX.N), as the lengthy takeover saga for Australia’s largest casino operator nears its end.

Shareholders of Crown, which has faced damaging misconduct inquiries in every state it operates in and has also been hammered by a COVID-19-led drop in visitors, will get A$13.10 a share, a 5.7% premium to the stock’s last close.

The latest offer price is 10.5% higher than Blackstone’s first A$11.85 apiece bid in March last year.

“The all-cash offer provides shareholders with certainty of value,” Crown Chairman Ziggy Switkowski said in a statement. Chief Executive Steve McCann said the price appropriately reflected the value of the company’s assets.

The deal was still subject to an independent expert deeming the offer suitable for shareholders, as well as approvals from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board and casino regulators, Crown said.

“We are very pleased to have entered into a binding implementation agreement with Crown and look forward to working with the company and its stakeholders to complete this transaction,” said Chris Tynan, senior managing director and head of real estate at Blackstone Australia.

Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), a vehicle owned by Crown founder James Packer with a 37% stake in the company, declined to comment.

Last year, Crown got three bids from Blackstone and a A$9 billion offer from rival Star Entertainment (SGR.AX) which was later withdrawn. It also unsuccessfully engaged with Oaktree Capital (OAK_pa.N) over the sale of Packer’s stake. read more

A shareholder meeting to vote on the deal is expected to be held in the second quarter.

Trading in Crown shares was temporarily paused ahead of the announcement and was still halted by 2326 GMT.