Is Crown Resorts Ltd a takeover target?

What: Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN) director and major shareholder, James Packer, has announced his resignation from the company’s board, effective immediately.

So what: In a statement to the ASX today, billionaire Mr Packer, who holds around 53% of the company, said, “I have taken this decision over several months following the smooth transition by Rob Rankin into the company Chairman’s role and the stable and cohesive functioning of the board and the senior management team during the period that I have transitioned overseas.”

Crown chairman, Rob Rankin, said, “On behalf of all Crown shareholders, I would like to again thank James for his strong leadership and guidance at the Crown Board over many years.” Adding, “however, this is not an ending, but a phase and an internal transition.”

Mr Packer will remain in his positions of Co-Chairman of Melco Crown Entertainment and Co-Chairman of Alon.

Now what: Crown’s share price flew 5.5% higher on the statement because it comes amid speculation that Packer is vying to take the business private. Packer’s private investment vehicle is Consolidated Press Holdings.

Indeed, in Crown’s ASX announcement, Mr Packer said, “At Consolidated Press Holdings too, we recently concluded a major transaction in my family’s business and this also has assisted the timing of my decision.”

Last week, Crown made public a communication between it and Packer’s Consolidated Holdings. The statement said that it (Consolidated Holdings) had held confidential discussions with third parties regarding its investments, “including its shareholding in Crown Resorts Limited.”

Consolidated Holdings said the notice should not be considered a proposal, but if it did indeed seek a buyout a proposal would be put forward to the independent directors of Crown.

Foolish takeaway

With a major shareholding in his family’s company and a growing multinational casino and resorts business this Fool doubts today’s announcement will be the end of the takeover speculation. Moreover, while I’m not prepared to gamble on a takeover, Crown’s future looks bright over the long term, with or without Packer sitting on the board.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Owen Raszkiewicz has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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