Billionaire James Packer cuts Crown casino stake to 48% in S$460m sale

Mr James Packer speaking during a news conference in Manila, Philippines, on Oct 9, 2013.
Mr James Packer speaking during a news conference in Manila, Philippines, on Oct 9, 2013.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) - Billionaire James Packer sold a A$448 million (S$459.8 million) stake in Crown Resorts Ltd, reducing his ownership of the Australian casino operator to less than 50 per cent.

Mr Packer's privately held investment vehicle, Consolidated Press Holdings Pty, agreed to sell 35 million shares - about 4.8 per cent of Crown - at A$12.80 apiece, it said in a letter to Crown that was released to the stock exchange on Monday (Aug 29). Crown closed at A$13.52 last week.

The shares fell 1.7 per cent to A$13.29 at 10.42am in Sydney trading. Consolidated Press will own about 48.2 per cent of Crown after the sale and will remain the biggest shareholder.

The sale comes two months after Crown announced plans to spin off its international investments, including a US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) stake in Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. Crown is also exploring an initial public offering of 49 per cent of a property trust for some of its Australian hotels.

Consolidated Press said in the letter that the sale forms part of its financial and capital management strategy, and the investment company supports Crown's proposed spin-off and IPO. According to the Australian newspaper, the sale follows a review of Consolidated Press's finances after Mr Packer's A$1.25 billion settlement last year with his sister, Ms Gretel Packer.

Consolidated Press "remains deeply committed to Crown resorts and is excited about the future for the company", it said in the letter.