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CASINO MOGUL & BILLIONAIRE James Packer has again folded on his long-held ambition to open a casino in Las Vegas – his second since 2008 with the global financial crisis ending an earlier possibility of the Aussie billionaire joining the ranks of the world’s greatest casinos as found on the Las Vegas strip.

The casino mogul who recently split from Pop Diva Mariah Carey has scrapped plans to build a $2.5 billion, 1100-room luxury casino and resort in the world’s most famous gambling destination.

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Packer-backed Crown Resorts will also sell close to half of its stake in its Macau business Melco Crown to its Asian joint venture partner for $1.6 billion.

It is interestng to note however that the following story indicates that although James is selling half is stake in Melco Crown, it appears he is still keeping a controlling interest – with The Australian newspaper reporting that Mr Packer is to maintain stakes as the value of Melco shares rise.

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The Wall Street Journal However confirms the sale.

Crown said it would raise 1.9 billion Australian dollars (US$1.4 billion) by selling shares in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. in two separate transactions, lowering Crown’s stake in that company to 11.2% from 27.4%. Crown said it plans to use the proceeds to reduce debt, fund a special dividend and pay for a share buyback.

Crown said Thursday it would sell a stake worth A$1.6 billion to Melco International Development Ltd., which is led by Melco Crown chief executive Lawrence Ho. On Friday, Crown said it is selling additional shares in a public offering to investors worth another roughly A$300 million. It also entered into swap transactions referencing about 5.5% of outstanding Melco Crown shares.

Macau, a special administrative region, is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. It is now the world’s most lucrative gambling hub.
  • Crown will use the funds from the Melco sale to reduce its debt pile by $800 million.
  • It will also issue a $500 million special dividend and spend $300 million on a share buyback to support its stock price.
  • Mr Packer, who owns 48 per cent of Crown, will pocket $240 million from the special dividend when it is issued next year.

The shake-up at Crown will see Mr Packer dramatically scale back his international exposure to focus on his home turf and the Sydney Barangaroo development.

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