Packer relinquishes majority stake in Crown Resorts

Billionaire James Packer has trimmed his stake in Crown Resorts to less than half, in the latest step of the casino mogul’s Macau interest sell down.

According to a report from AFR Street Talk, Packer, via his private investment vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings, sold 35 million shares in Crown Resorts, approximately 4.8 percent of Crown, bringing CPH’s stake down to 48.2 percent.

The sale comes two months after Crown announced plans to spin off its international assets, including its stake in Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.

In the letter, CPH said the sale forms part of its financial and capital management strategy, and the investment company supports Crown’s proposed spin off and IPO.

Consolidated Press “remains deeply committed to Crown resorts and is excited about the future for the company,” it said in the letter, though it did not elaborate on the reason for the sale or the identity of the buyers.

Over the past year, Packer has gradually reduced his involvement in Crown, stepping down as chairman in August 2015 and as a director in December.

Earlier this month, veteran US gaming industry consultant Howard Klein said Packer’s plan to de-merge his Australian and international casino assets and sell down of his Macau interest may be indicative of his withdrawal from the Asian gaming hub.

“My view is that James has elected to take a step back now as something of a hedge bet. In classic Packer mode, he’s taking chips off the table until the cards turn ­favorable,” Klein said.

Earlier this month, Melco Crown said its revenue missed the mark in the 2016 second quarter at $1.07 billion, falling short of analyst estimates of $1.09 billion.

Revenues represented a 17 percent increase from $916.8 million for the second quarter of 2015.