Star, Crown CEOs Meet, Talk Merger

Sources say the heads of Australian gaming giants Matt Bekier of Star Entertainment and Crown Resorts’ Steve McCann met in a virtual meeting June 16 to discuss the former’s proposed merger.

Multiple news reports indicate that the chief executives of Australia’s Star Entertainment Group and Crown Resorts sat down for a virtual meeting June 16 last to discuss the former company’s merger proposal.

It was the first official encounter between Star CEO Matt Bekier and Crown’s new CEO Steve McCann, who assumed the top role at Crown on June 1. According to the Australian Financial Review, the meeting is seen as a positive among those who favor the merger of Australia’s two largest gaming companies.

On May 10, Star proposed an all-stock buyout of Crown that it valued at AU$9 billion (US$7 billion). With its bid, Star is going up against global investment firm Blackstone Group, which recently upped its own Crown bid to AU$8.4 billion, and Oaktree Capital Group, which has proposed to bankroll an AU$3 billion buyback of Crown founder James Packer’s 37 percent stake.

Other bidders could also be circling according to the U.K. Guardian newspaper, including Apollo Investment and Hong Kong-listed CC Land Holdings, a real-estate development firm 70 percent owned by CK Cheung.

Bekier reportedly pitched McCann “on the $150 million to $200 million worth of synergies Star reckons the merger could present,” reported AFR, “as well as the value that could be unlocked from the sale and leaseback of a combined Star/Crown property portfolio.”

Crown has also been approached by Blackstone Group and Oaktree Capital.