Australia’s Crown completes Macau gaming exit

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Sydney (AFP) – Australian casino operator Crown Resorts agreed on Tuesday to sell the remaining stake in its Macau venture for US$1.16 billion as the firm pursues a restructure amid a Chinese gambling crackdown.

Mogul James Packer’s company will exit its holding in Melco Resorts by offloading a final 11.2 percent holding to joint-venture partner Melco International on May 15, the Australian-listed firm announced.

“Crown Resorts will no longer hold an interest in Melco Resorts,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The sell-down will complete a Macau exit for Crown, which late last year also shelved plans for a Las Vegas casino to concentrate on its Australian luxury hotel and casino business.

Crown has suffered from weakening demand in Macau following a Chinese corruption crackdown.

The casino operator had 18 staff members detained in China last year accused of organising banned gambling activities overseas for wealthy Chinese.

It has embarked on a management shake-up to energise local operations amid ailing turnover from high rollers visiting Australia.

The sale late last year of 13.4 percent of Melco Resorts for $1.6 billion helped boost second-half profits after the firm reported a large fall in turnover from foreign VIPs.

The proceeds from the remaining Macau stake, which after a swap agreement amounts to $987 million, will be used to reduce debt, the gaming firm said.

Investors Tuesday warmed to the announcement with Crown Resorts up 0.18 cents, or 1.44 percent to Aus$12.68 (US$9.34) in late morning trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.

    <figure><figcaption>Australian casino operator Crown Resorts has suffered from weakening demand in Macau following a Chinese corruption crackdown
        <span>Copyright AFP/File Philippe Lopez</span>
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