James Packer will pocket $489m of Crown casino cash and take his stake back above 50%

13/07/2019 Posted by admin

The Chinese high rollers might be deserting his casinos, but the cash will still be rolling in for billionaire James Packer.
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Crown Resorts has announced it will pay a bonus dividend, as well as increasing its regular payout to investors, which is expected to deliver $489 million in cash to Packer, who is its largest shareholder.

For the first half, Crown announced that it will raise its interim dividend to 30¢ per share and pay a special 83¢ dividend. The bonus cash comes from the selldown of Crown’s stake in its troubled Macau venture, Melco Crown, and a retreat from its global ambitions to focus on the n market.

The extra bonus for Packer is that these dividends will be 60 per cent franked, which reduce his tax bill. Crown has said it also expects to pay a 30¢ per share dividend after its full-year result in August.

Packer’s cash bonus is not the only gain he will make from Crown’s generosity. The casino operator announced plans to buy back around $500 million worth of shares as another capital management exercise. It estimates it could buy back around 44 million shares, or six per cent of its issued capital.

For those with short memories, Packer sold down his controlling stake in August last year. It generated a $448 million cash bonus for the billionaire, but reduced his holding below 50 per cent.

A buyback of this scale would take Packer’s stake, held via his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), to just over 50 per cent – assuming he doesn’t sell any of his Crown shares into the buyback.

There were few surprises in the Crown result after it announced that its high rollers business had tanked by an astonishing 45 per cent for the half year following the arrest of employees in China. The arrests happened in October, which means that the high roller exodus only occurred over the last three months of the year.

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