The month of April has been a whirlwind one for Crown Resorts and its controlling owner, James Packer. And the whirling has yet to ease up.
The year started with talks between Crown Resorts and Wynn Resorts regarding a takeover worth nearly A$9.99 billion. Those talks were serious until Crown made the information public, apparently contrary to the wishes of Wynn. Within 24 hours of the Crown announcement, Wynn formally and publicly “terminated all discussions with Crown Resorts concerning any transactions.”
Stories emerging from the situation since then range from dark days for Packer to the potential of a bidding war. Speculation is running rampant. But some things are clear, as numbers don’t lie.
Roller Coaster for CWN
On April 7, the day before any information about the possible Wynn acquisition of Crown, the stock price for Crown was $11.74.
As news spread from Crown’s announcement of a potential deal on April 8, the price per share soared to its high point of $14.05. It was the highest point since it hit $14.37 in August 2018 upon solid results from investments in high-stakes gamblers and VIP turnover.
The following day, when Wynn pulled its deal from the table, the price sunk to $12.77.
Analysts have subsequently weighted in about more potential bids for Crown versus the possibility that Packer may be anxious to sell. In the meantime, the Crown price has hovered around the $13.00 mark, closing on April 16 at $13.15 per share.
Potential Crown Resorts Buyers Preparing Bids?
According to Bloomberg, a number of potential suitors may be gearing up to talk to Crown Resorts. Of course, Crown has declined to say anything about another deal. Especially considering what happened with Wynn. Nevertheless, high-level analysts have some ideas.
A Deutsche Bank representative said casino giants like US-based Hard Rock International and Malaysia-based Genting may reach out to Crown to discuss options. Hard Rock has been seeking expansion outside of North America and has been eyeing a casino license in the new Japanese market. And Genting already spans the globe but has experience in the Australian market that it could put to use.
That Deutsche Bank spokesperson also anticipates that Wynn will return to the table to continue talks with Crown. That’s based on the assumption that the deal was too far along and too positive to abandon altogether.
A managing partner at Delta State Holdings speculated that a company with operations in Singapore or Macau might be good matches for Crown in light of the regional expansion opportunities. He also noted that acquisition would be the “only way to enter a monopoly-style market.”
SunCity Group Holdings was another name bandied about in recent days. The company certainly wants to expand further beyond Macau, as it is building a casino in Vietnam at present. Nonetheless, it has said that the price set by Wynn is too high.
Packer Ready to Pack It Up
Much of the talk about the potential of a Crown Resorts deal has centered around Packer. The billionaire businessman has been withdrawing from the business world slowly but surely over the past few years.
Sources cite numerous reasons for his increasing reclusiveness, including his breakup with singer Mariah Carey in late 2017. This separation was very public and somewhat humiliating. He also paid millions in a financial settlement to his ex-fiancée. And all of that followed two failed marriages in his past.
As that was happening, Packer was also dealing with the fallout from the arrest of 16 Crown employees in China for trying to lure high-stakes gamblers to Australian casinos. Crown eventually paid more than $1 million in fines and scrapped any ideas of expanding into Macau.
Since then, Packer quit the board of Crown in early 2018, resigned as director of his own private investment company, and dropped development plans to build a casino in Las Vegas. Currently, he still owns 49% of Crown shares. However, his repeated statements regarding mental health problems and wanting to escape the spotlight may prompt him to take advantage of any positive deal that comes for Crown.
Many say that it would be the end of the Packer “dynasty” in Australia. In the process, ending an era that his father started and James Packer continued.
Packer remains a shrewd businessman, but he also may be smart enough to know when enough is enough. He certainly would be unlikely to leave the business world altogether. Still, leaving Crown behind might be just what he needs at this time.