Shareholders of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Limited have voted in favor of a previously unveiled business sale to New York-based alternative investment management company Blackstone. The American firm is acquiring Crown for AUD 8.9 billion ($6.3 billion).
The news was confirmed by Crown in an ASX statement released on Friday. The proposed transaction was passed by the requisite majorities of Crown shareholders, with 92.05% of them present and voting in favor of the transaction. The shareholder vote on the proposed deal was delayed from its initial date by three weeks.
Next step for the company is that once the conditions laid out in the scheme are satisfied, including Blackstone’s gaming regulatory approvals, Crown will apply to the Court for approval of the transaction. The casino business has a scheduled Court hearing for the plan on May 24.
In relation to these pending regulatory approvals, Crown informed investors that Blackstone is “continuing to consult with the relevant regulators” in Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales in relation to the terms and conditions of the approvals. The process is “ongoing and in its final stages” and set to extend into June.
Thus, Crown anticipates Blackstone’s regulatory approval condition will not be satisfied by the date of the scheduled hearing. Due to this, Crown intends “to request a short adjournment to the hearing such that it would be deferred until the week commencing June 6,” according to the ASX statement. Blackstone and Crown had initially set what many labeled an “aggressive timetable” that is now facing delays.
“Crown will continue to assist Blackstone as it works towards obtaining the required gaming regulatory approvals,” the company’s management said. “Crown will announce to the ASX material developments in respect of Blackstone’s gaming regulatory approvals and, in due course, the date for the final Court hearing to approve the scheme.”
Should the Court approve the transaction, the scheme will then become legally effective, and Crown shares will be suspended from trading on the ASX. Once conditions are satisfied, the company expects the deal to be implemented “on approximately the 7th business day following the date on which the scheme becomes effective.”
The scheme calls for Blackstone to acquire all shares in Crown from shareholders for AUD 13.10 cash per share. The amount offered by the firm represents a significant premium and uplift in value from an earlier offer made in March 2021, and follows three earlier proposals from Blackstone.
Ziggy Switkowski, Crown Chairman
An independent expert appointed by Crown’s board concluded the scheme was in the best interests of Crown shareholders “in the absence of a superior proposal.” Directors for the company have unanimously recommended shareholders vote in favor since the deal was first unveiled.
Crown Resorts agreed to the takeover offer in February this year, with the company’s board -now chaired by Ziggy Switowski following an entire board replacement amid turmoil and regulatory issues- unanimously backing the proposition. Blackstone is already Crown’s second-biggest shareholder, with a 9.9% stake.
Once completed, the takeover transaction will give high-profile billionaire James Packer -Crown’s major shareholder at a 37% stake in the company- an exit from the Australian giant, bringing an end to his era in the company.