James Packer's $10b casino deal with Las Vegas gambling giant falls through

Casino mogul Steve Wynn and his wife Andrea in 2012

News of Wynn's approach sent Crown shares surging more than 20 per cent on Tuesday, adding as much as $800 million to Mr Packer's holding in the company, which owns Perth's Burswood casino and hotel complex on the banks of the Swan River.

Both companies had previously confirmed the talks.

But it plunged to A$12.55 in early Sydney trading Wednesday, from A$14.05 at the close on Tuesday, after Wynn said overnight it had "terminated all discussions with Crown" due to their "premature disclosure".

That offer would have valued Crown at around $10billion.

Wynn Resorts is almost four times the size of Crown with a portfolio of casinos and hotels in Las Vegas and Macau.

This can make deal negotiations more difficult by emboldening acquisition targets to drive a hard bargain, analysts said.

It comes as fears about Crown Resorts' new casino development in Sydney weigh on the company's share price, while a slowdown in spending by VIP gamblers at its Melbourne and Perth casinos weighs on the company's turnover.

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The talks had been going on for some months and involved a previous offer, The Australian newspaper reported.

Wynn's interest in Melbourne-based Crown, which is nearly exclusively focused on its domestic market where big-spending VIP gamblers have become more elusive, seems unusual, but the Las Vegas-based empire is desperately seeking to shore up its presence among Asian bettors.

It added: "The proposal contemplates an acquisition of Crown by Wynn via scheme of arrangement for a combination of cash and Wynn shares".

Wynn then issued two statements, first confirming the talks, and, a few hours later, stating that they had ended. In addition, it operates a casino in London, in the United Kingdom. Crown largely retreated from overseas markets after a crackdown in China in late 2016 that resulted in 19 current and former Crown staff being convicted of illegally promoting gambling on the mainland, receiving jail terms of as long as 10 months. The chain's founder, Steve Wynn, resigned as chairman and chief executive in February 2018 after claims of sexual misconduct, and has sold his stake in the company.

Soon afterward, Crown signalled a retreat from global expansion plans that included Las Vegas and Macau.

Crown is undergoing a period of restructuring, which has included selling land in Las Vegas, its stake in Macau's Melco Resorts & Entertainment and its share of betting comapany CrownBet.

The sale at the current proposed price would fetch about A$4.7 billion for Packer, who in addition to Crown quit 22 company directorships past year in a remarkable retreat for the scion of a family which had been a fixture of corporate Australia most of the 20th century.

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