James Packer has sold almost half of his stake in Crown Resorts for A $ 1.76 billion ($ 1.86b) to an entertainment company based in Macau, much less than the merger of A $ 10b with an empire of Las Casinos. Vegas that went bankrupt last month.
Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), Packer's private investment company, confirmed late on Thursday that it had sold 19.99 percent of its stake in Crown Resorts to Melco Resorts and Entertainment.
It was sold for an aggregate purchase price of A $ 1.76b, equivalent to A $ 13 per share.
This is A $ 1.75 per share below the agreement proposed in April, which means that Packer has lost A $ 236 million ($ 250.6m) in potential profits.
The fact that Packer was willing to sell his shares at a cheaper price is a sign that he is willing to reduce his dependence on games and invest elsewhere.
Once the sale of shares is completed, CPH will own approximately 26 percent of Crown, with an approximate value of A $ 2.3b, and will remain represented in the Crown directory.
Packer's interest in Crown will be reduced from 46.1 percent to 26 percent, which means he has relinquished control of the company.
His current stake in Crown is now around A $ 2.3b.
Packer said Crown was a stronger company with Melco as a strategic shareholder.
"Crown has been a massive part of my life for the past 20 years and that's still the case today, and my continued involvement with Crown represents my biggest investment," Packer said of the deal.
"I'm still extremely interested in Crown's success as a world-class resort and gaming business, and the sale allows me to continue my long-term participation in Crown and, at the same time, better diversify my investment portfolio."
But the deal pales in comparison to the failed merger with Las Vegas giant Wynn Resorts in April, when the Packers-backed betting company ruined the deal by spilling the beans preemptively.
A few hours after Crown confirmed to the Australian Stock Exchange that a lucrative deal was being negotiated, Wynn Resorts abruptly ended the prospect of the agreement.
"After the premature disclosure of the preliminary discussions, Wynn Resorts ended all discussions with Crown Resorts regarding any transaction," the company said at the time.
The "premature" spill of the agreement caused Crown's share price to rise 20 percent.
However, an agreed offer had not materialized in the agreement that would have resulted in Packer withdrawing with around A $ 2b and a 10 percent stake in Wynn Resorts.
The Wall Street Journal spoke with a source who said Wynn executives were shocked by Crown's announcement.
"It surprised me and the people of the United States were surprised," the person said.
Melco CEO Lawrence Ho said the participation was a great opportunity for Melco, which operates casinos throughout Asia, including Macao and the Philippines.
Ho said he is interested in increasing his stake beyond 19.99 percent if he authorizes checks of probity with Australian regulators.
"Certainly, our intention is to continue if the opportunity arises to increase our participation in Crown," said Ho.
CPH will present a Notice of Change in Substantial Exploitation with both Crown and the Australian Stock Exchange.
At the time when the Wynn Resorts deal got out of control, the Victorian business editor of Australia, Damon Kitney, who wrote a biography about the billionaire titled The Price of Fortune, wrote that the end of Packer's involvement with Crown would be the end of an era for Australian businesses
It would mean that the Packer family no longer ran a large public company after a few years that Kerry Packer's son would rather forget.
This includes participation in corruption, a high profile break with a global star and a street fight in broad daylight.
And although the agreement with Ho appears to be much weaker than last month's merger offer, it could serve as a salvation for an exhausted Australian business icon that is ready to leave the game.
The biography closes with solemn comments of resignation of Packer, which according to Kitney is proof that the billionaire is willing to give up his role as a business magnate.
"Some people handle pressure well and others do not, No. I do not know if that's because I'm connected in that way," Packer told the author.
"Or if it's because bad things have really happened to me, I'm tired of being on this roller coaster, I do not want to do it anymore, I'm ready to raise my hand for a few years, really a.m."