Competition for Control of Crown Resorts Heats up after Oaktree Steps In

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Crown Resorts’ Board of Directors is going to have to make some tough decisions soon, but one of them is relatively easy. The ouster of founder and former CEO James Packer is a given and will happen at some point in the near future. It almost seemed inevitable that could be part of a deal worked out with the Blackstone Group, which offered $6.2 billion to buy out the embattled casino operator. However, a new deal has made it to the negotiating table via private equity firm Oaktree Capital Group that would conceivably keep Crown intact, but give the operator a viable and easy exit strategy.

Oaktree Capital Proposes Packer Buyout

Oaktree has submitted a proposal that would see it fund an effort by Crown Resorts to purchase the Crown stake held by Packer. The firm believes $2.3 billion is an appropriate amount for the 37% held by the company’s founder and Crown is reportedly weighing the option against the offer submitted by Blackstone. The operator didn’t specify what angle Oaktree has in the arrangement, but the deal would allow Crown to appease regulators by separating itself from Packer. It would also keep the company from having to settle for an insufficient offer that doesn’t value it properly based on future expectations.

Packer would be able to walk away with a nice payday, as well. He has already acknowledged that he is willing to make a deal and, since his exit is inevitable, taking the $2.3 billion would be a smart choice. It would likely be the quickest way to find a resolution that makes everyone happy and that allows Crown to try to put all of its pieces back together. However, it still has to contend with ongoing investigations first.

Blackstone Deal Not Favored By Crown Shareholders

Blackstone may be trying to lowball Crown due to a belief that the company is desperate to make a deal. Company shareholders aren’t amused with the offer the firm has put on the table and haven’t been willing to get behind an arrangement. Oaktree can take advantage of that dissent and step in to push Blackstone away.

At least one company with a stake in Crown believes this is possible. Taking the Oaktree deal would give the company a lot of flexibility moving forward and would also potentially allow it to do what Blackstone is likely to do, sell the company in chunks to earn a profit. Financial adviser Intelligent Investor holds a piece of the company and one of its portfolio managers, Nathan Bell, says there’s no reason Crown couldn’t manage on its own what Blackstone would do. For now, the subject remains in the air, as no one is commenting on a possible outcome.

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