Crown Pushes on With Australian Hotel IPO as China Holds Staff

  • Board backs plan to list 49% of four Australian hotels
  • Detention in China of 18 Crown staff approaches second week

Crown Resorts Ltd., the Australian casino operator with 18 staff under detention in China, plans to push ahead with a listing of some of its domestic hotels to raise funds for development projects.

Crown’s board has backed the plan for an initial public offering of 49 percent of an entity holding the Crown Promenade hotels and Crown Metropol hotels in Melbourne and Perth, the company said in a statement Thursday.

The IPO would allow Crown “to maintain a strong balance sheet and credit profile to fund existing development projects,” the Melbourne-based company said. Crown Towers Melbourne isn’t included in the IPO.

The listing was first proposed in June, when Crown also said it would spin off international assets including a stake in Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. Crown’s current planned investments include a A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) high-roller casino resort at Barangaroo on Sydney’s waterfront. 

The Crown staff held in China since last week include three Australians, among them Jason O’Connor, head of international high-roller operations. The trio are being detained for gambling-related crimes, according to China’s foreign ministry.

The company is holding its annual shareholders meeting in Perth Thursday.

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