Keep calm investors, billionaire James Packer isn’t pulling casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd. from the Australian Stock Exchange anytime soon.
On Wednesday, a Reuters source doused speculations that the world’s No. 7 casino company will become private following Packer’s much publicized mental health issues in March.
Packer had been toying with the idea of taking the Crown Resorts private since he first quit the $6.7 billion company in 2015. However, Packer set aside the idea as the company decided to expand Crown’s business portfolio overseas.
A lot of things happened between 2015 and 2018, including Packer’s complete retreat from Asia and the company’s other global expansion plans as a result of the arrests of Crown Resorts staffers in China. By early 2018, Packer found himself back on Crown’s board—and so was the idea to take Crown private.
But things didn’t go as smoothly in Australia as Packer had hoped. Crown Melbourne was investigated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) over allegations that it tampered with its pokies machines.
An unnamed fund manager, who sold Crown shares just before Packer stepped down from the board for the second time, believes that the Australian billionaire will not take the company on the delisting route.
For one, the source pointed out that Packer doesn’t want to borrow money to repurchase the 54 percent of Crown shares he no longer owns.
“It would be another A$5 billion (US$3.9 billion) or A$6 billion and that’s a hell of a lot of money,” the fund manager said, according to the news outlet.
Recent appointments to the Crown board also sugggest that the company won’t leave the Australian bourse. Most of the appointees are either close allies or former government officials, an indication that Packer wants the company to remain public but be conservatively managed, according to the source.
With a triennial license review in Melbourne just a few months away, the source said Packer will rely on the board’s roster of ex-government leaders to “do whatever it takes” to ensure that the casino operator is “squeaky clean.”