Star Entertainment Group pulls $6.6bn bid for Crown Resorts

Star Entertainment Group pulls $6.6bn bid for Crown Resorts

Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group on Friday withdrew a A$9 billion ($6.6 billion) buyout proposal for rival Crown Resorts Ltd after an inquiry heard the target should lose its main licence, sending its shares lower.

Star, the country’s No. 2 casino operator, said it may yet consider a tie-up with the troubled larger company, but was concerned about the impact of an inquiry on its value “including whether it retains the license to operate its Melbourne casino or the conditions under which its license is retained.”

The decision removes a lifeline for Crown which has been trying to convince regulators it can rebuild its culture after an earlier inquiry in February found it allowed money laundering on its premises for years and declared the company unfit to open a just-built casino in Sydney.

That inquiry, along with venue closures due to COVID-19 lockdowns around the country, had put downward pressure on Crown’s shares, sparking at least two takeover approaches for the company in which billionaire James Packer has a 37% stake.

A subsequent inquiry was told this week Crown should also be stripped of its gambling licence for the Melbourne resort, whose casino generates about three quarters of its profit, due to insufficient efforts to reform its culture.

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