Australian resort group Crown Resorts has received an increased offer from Blackstone and a rivalling merger proposal from The Star Entertainment Group to create a A$12bn (€7.6bn) entity.

Blackstone, which owns around 10% of Crown shares, has increased its previous A$11.85 per share offer by A$0.50, valuing the ASX-listed resort group at A$8.36bn. The Star, which operates casinos in NSW and Queensland, has offered A$12.50 per Crown share in cash, or the equivalent of A$14 per share in scrip as part of its proposed merger.

The Star’s chairman, John O’Neill, said that with properties in four Australian states and tourism hubs, the combined group would be a compelling investment proposition and one of the largest and most attractive integrated resort operators in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his letter to Crown’s chair, Helen Coonan, O’Neill wrote: “Further to our recent discussions, The Star is pleased to provide you with this conditional, non-binding indicative proposal for The Star to merge with Crown Resorts.

Crown said it will “now commence a process to assess the merger proposal, having regard to the value and terms of the proposal and other considerations. It will also engage with relevant stakeholders including regulatory authorities”.

Crown has chosen not to engage with Blackstone on its unsolicited, non-binding bid. Blackstone submitted its first bid in April.

The Crown board today also announced that Steve McCann, currently chief executive officer of LendLease, had been appointed chief executive officer and managing director of Crown, subject to receipt of probity and regulatory approvals.

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