Packer insisted on Crown-Melco deal

The ILGA continues to hear testimony in its investigation into Crown Resorts.
The ILGA continues to hear testimony in its investigation into Crown Resorts.

“It’s my life and I’m going to overrule you,” the shareholder told director Michael Johnston.

Australia.- The hearing into Crown Resorts has heard that the operator’s largest shareholder, James Packer, dismissed warnings from financial advisors about the sale of a 19.9 per cent stake to Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts.

The New South Wales Liquor and Gaming Authority is conducting the hearings to decide whether Crown is fit to keep its casino licence for its AU$2.4 billion property currently under construction at Barangaroo.

Authorities have already heard about the incident in 2016 in which 19 Crown officials were found guilty of promoting gambling in China.

Now they have seen text messages from financial adviser and Crown director, Michael Johnston, who warned Packer to wait for a further inquiry before striking a AU$1.8 billion (US$1.27 billion) deal with Melco for 19.9 per cent of the operator.

Advisors wanted to investigate whether Stanley Ho still had significant involvement in Melco Resorts, which would ban it from taking an interest in the Australian operator under the NSW government’s gaming licence.

To the text, Packer replied: “Sure, but, Mike, it is my life and I’m going to overrule you.”

Ho had a 20 per cent stake in Melco International, which owned a third of Melco Resorts. Johnston said he was unaware of this when advising Packer on the deal, and that Crown management had not been informed of the intention of selling these shares.

Packer himself is scheduled to face the ILGA inquiry later this week.

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