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Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho’s son buys 20pc stake in Australia’s Crown Resorts for US$1.3 billion
* Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts acquires Crown stake after the Australian company’s talks to sell the entire group to Wynn Resorts fell through in April
* Deal brings together Ho and James Packer who were partners in a joint Macau casino operation

Agence France-Presse   
Published: 9:33am, 31 May, 2019

Australian billionaire James Packer has sold nearly half his stake in Crown Resorts casinos to Lawrence Ho, son of Macau gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, for A$1.8 billion (US$1.3 billion).

Packer’s investment company, Consolidated Press Holdings, said late on Thursday that the sale to Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts and Entertainment involved 19.99 per cent of Crown Resorts, bringing its holding in the group down to 26 per cent.

Packer, who stepped down from the Crown board last year to deal with what his company called “mental health issues”, said he remained committed to the casino business despite the further reduction in his involvement.

“Crown has been a massive part of my life for the last 20 years and that absolutely remains the case today,” he said in a statement.

“I am still vitally interested in Crown’s success as a world class resort and gaming business,” he said, adding that the sale to Ho’s Melco allowed him “to better diversify my investment portfolio.”

The Hong Kong tycoon said in a separate statement that the investment in Crown was “an incredible opportunity to purchase a strategic stake in what I believe to be Australia’s premier provider of true integrated resort experiences.”

Ho singled out Crown’s newest casino, still under construction in Sydney’s Darling Harbour, as “an architectural icon for the city, the country and the world.”

Packer and Ho have already been partners in a joint casino operation in Macau, though Crown sold its interest in that venture in 2017.

The selldown of Packer’s stake in Crown came after negotiations to sell the entire Crown group to US casino operator Wynn Resorts for some A$10 billion fell through in April after news of the talks leaked to the Australian media.

Ho’s investment in Crown comes as the Australian group struggles with falling revenue at its Melbourne and Perth casinos because of a drop in spending by so-called “high roller” gamblers, mainly from China.

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