International edition
June 23, 2021

Firm's jewel will be the USD 1.4B Barangaroo casino in Sydney

Crown Resorts rolls the dice on new casinos as sliding revenues see debts increase

Crown Resorts rolls the dice on new casinos as sliding revenues see debts increase
James Packer's recent decision to step aside as chairman of his Crown Resorts gambling empire may have come as a bolt from the blue to many observers.
Australia | 09/01/2015

James Packer's recent decision to step aside as chairman of his Crown Resorts gambling empire may have come as a bolt from the blue to many observers.

B

ut his move to a more hands-on role has coincided with Crown's very own high-stakes game, rolling the dice on major new casinos just as sliding revenues have caused a rapid lift in debt.

"Crown's at a bit of a tipping point, a precipice as it were. (If) all goes to plan they will be fine, otherwise they may very well be scrambling for some more capital. And investors definitely won't be happy about that," Lincoln Indicators chief executive Elio D'Amato said.

Crown's jewel will be the $1.4 billion Barangaroo casino in Sydney, along with development plans in Las Vegas, a new five-star hotel in Melbourne, a Perth casino redevelopment and a third casino in Macau.

With so many wheels spinning, Mr Packer will move into a day-to-day management role when he steps down as chairman this month.

"Mr Packer stepping down is a sign now the company is at a very important juncture point in its operations and business. Mr Packer really wants to focus on the delivery of some key projects. Failure of the delivery of those projects could put Crown under pressure in some three to four years' time. So the work that is put in now is critical to the long-term success of Crown. I suspect his move is more strategic in that he wants his best man on the job," Mr D'Amato said.

Some investors, however, are concerned about the level of debt Crown is carrying to finance the expansion.

The company's net debt has almost doubled since last financial year, jumping to $2.5 billion, with net profit down almost 40 per cent. At the recent results presentation, Crown's chief financial officer Kenneth Barton was upbeat about the company's finances.

"FY15 was a big year in terms of expenditure. Despite all that expenditure we've still seen the balance sheet in reasonably good shape," he said. And Crown still has $1.4 billion in debt not utilised.

However, debt-to-earnings ratios are now just under the guidance put out by rating agencies S&P and Moody's.

Moody's senior credit officer Maurice O'Connell warned Crown's expansion plans could put pressure on its ratings.

"The headroom is diminished and it is diminishing. So, really, in order to increase the debt levels we would want to see a step up in earnings or continued solid earnings growth. One of the key drivers for that we had anticipated earlier was increased dividends coming from its investment in Melco Crown. What we saw in the June results was a decrease in the dividends it received," he said.

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