The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority says that it has reached an agreement with James Packer’s investment holding company Consolidated Press Holdings, in a bid to reduce his influence over Crown Resorts.
An agreement was said to have been reached “following discussions between the regulator and CPH about the Bergin report which raised significant concerns over the influence of CPH and Mr Packer, as the dominant shareholder of Crown, on the management and operation of Crown’s Barangaroo casino”.
In February an ILGA commission inquiry, led by Patricia Bergin, filed a report that deemed Crown unfit to operate the $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, however, a series of recommendations for the firm to reach suitability were also issued.
The inquiry cited poor corporate governance, deficient risk-management structures and processes, and a poor corporate culture, and has subsequently spawned the launch of investigations within the states of Victoria and Western Australia, where the organisation also boasts operations.
Among the recommendations in the Bergin report was that a person may not acquire, hold or transfer an interest of 10 per cent or more in a licensee of a casino in New South Wales or any holding company of a licensee without the prior approval of the ICC. Major shareholder James Packer has 36 per cent stake.
Under the terms of this agreement, CPH will not enter into any information sharing arrangements with Crown; will be banned from entering into any discussions with Crown, other than through public forums, about Crown’s businesses or operations; will not seek to have its executive or nominee appointed to Crown’s board or requisition a meeting of Crown shareholders to seek the appointment of any person as a director of Crown, before October 2024; and must not seek any amendment to the Crown constitution which would affect the management or operation of Crown’s businesses.
Crown is currently the subject of a $6bn takeover pursuit Blackstone Group, with the US investment management firm, and affiliates, tabling a proposal to absorb shares in the company that it doesn’t already own at AU11.85 each.
Blackstone currently owns a 9.99 per cent shareholding in Melbourne headquartered company, having acquired the stake from Melco Resorts and Entertainment for $8.15 per share in April 2020.