Blackstone Group Moves Closer to Crown Acquisition

The Blackstone Group, the American alternative investment management company, has been given approval by two of the three necessary Australian state regulators to acquire Crown Resorts.

Both the New South Wales Independent Gaming and Liquor Authority (ILGA) and the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) have approved the plans. Now Blackstone Group only needs gaming regulatory approval in Western Australia. The acquisition has already been approved by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB).

Crown has pointed out that the acquisition is also subject to approval from the Federal Court of Australia, which should be granted at a final court hearing, and the other customary conditions precedent. However, no date has yet been set for the final court hearing.

In order to give its approval, the VGCCC required that Blackstone and Crown agree to a substantial list of conditions and protections, which the Commission says has now happened. Amongst the protections is the strengthening of Crown’s governance through the obligatory application of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and a number of recommendations. These include that Crown Melbourne has a majority independent board of directors, that there is improved information sharing with law enforcement agencies, and new role requirements for the CEO and key executives.

Fran Thorn - VGCCC Chairperson

In reaching this decision, our specialist team put in many months of work investigating the suitability of the Blackstone Group to become an associate of the Melbourne casino operator. Our approval comes with stringent conditions, which balance delivering stronger controls on the casino and ensuring it continues to be the flagship casino in Australia. We will take action should any of these conditions not be met by either Blackstone or Crown.

Fran ThornVGCCC Chairperson

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