Could Star Entertainment shares be next in line to catch a takeover bid?

Star shares have been battered, but could a buyout be coming?

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Are Star Entertainment Group Ltd (ASX: SGR) shares about to depart from the Australian stock market? There are certainly some rumours swirling around that they might be.

We've seen a few developments in the mergers and acquisitions space on the ASX over 2024 so far. It looks like Virgin Money UK plc (ASX: VUK) might leave the ASX boards later this year after a generous takeover offer earlier this month.

It was a similar story with Prospa Group Ltd (ASX: PGL) shares last month. And there have been some huge moves with the Appen Ltd (ASX: APX) share price this year after an announced and subsequently withdrawn takeover bid from US stock Innodata Inc.

Star Entertainment shares have been a volatile investment to have held in recent times. Long-term investors have been punished for owning this casino operator, with the Star share price down almost 86% from its 2021 peak of around $3.80 a share. Today, those same shares are worth just 53 cents each after dropping as low as 42 cents in December last year.

Star has evidently yet to recover from years of regulatory scrutiny over its ability to lawfully operate its casino assets. It was only last month that the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) revealed that it would hold a second inquiry into Star's suitability as a casino operator.

And just last week, the company revealed that its CEO Robbie Cooke would be leaving Star after just 16 months in the job.

Are Star Entertainment shares primed for a takeover bid?

So perhaps this makes Star a prime target for a takeover. After all, it was the legendary Warren Buffett who once said "The best thing that happens to us is when a great company gets into temporary trouble. … We want to buy them when they're on the operating table".

Some ASX experts even suggest this is likely.

According to reporting in The Australian, ASX brokers believe that following Star's abrupt CEO exit last week, a sale of the company to a private equity buyer is "the most likely outcome" of Star's recent woes.

Of course, this is just rumours and speculation at this point. But objectively, there's a strong possibility that Star's embattled investors might be open to an exit strategy after the horrid few years they've collectively endured.

Only time will tell if this speculation leads to any developments. But it is sure shaping up to be an interesting space to keep an eye on.

Motley Fool contributor Sebastian Bowen has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has positions in and has recommended Appen. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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