Crown Limited Chairman James Packer has lifted his controlling share in the casino operator from 48.1 percent to 49.9 percent, in a recent transaction worth about A2 million.
Australia’s Business Daily said Packer was the buyer of 13.8 million shares in publicly listed Crown at $10.33 each in a trade carried out by investment bank UBS.
The gaming mogul stopped short of going over 50 percent because Crown would then need to be consolidated in Packer’s private company, according to reports.
The move comes after Packer sold his remaining stake in his family’s Consolidated Media empire to News Limited for $2 billion in a deal completed last month.
Packer has been steadily closing in on a majority stake in Crown in recent years through a series of on-market share purchases.
Under Australian “creep provisions,” shareholders who own more than 20 percent of a company are only allowed to buy an extra 3 percent of its shares every six months, unless they launch a formal takeover offer. The rules are designed to force investors seeking controlling stakes to make public takeover bids—for which they would generally have to pay a premium—rather than acquire a majority share by stealth.
In April, Packer bought 15.3 million Crown shares for $8.72 each in a deal worth $133.4 million.
The gaming mogul also has a 10 percent stake in rival Echo Entertainment, and is pursuing a $1 billion development at another waterfront casino near The Star, Echo’s Sydney flagship.