Australian casino company Crown Ltd. (>> Crown Limited) confirmed Thursday that it holds a 10% interest in rival Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. (>> Echo Entertainment Group Ltd).
"Crown confirms that the only interests (either by way of physical holdings or through derivatives) that it and its associates have in Echo Entertainment Group Ltd. shares are as set out in Crown's Notice of Change of Interest of Substantial Holder dated 8 March 2012," said the company.
The notice states that Crown, which owns Melbourne's Crown casino and Perth's Burswood casino, holds a 10% interest in Echo, which owns Sydney's The Star casino and casinos in Queensland state. Crown also said that Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd. (>> Consolidated Media Holdings Limited), in which James Packer holds a 50.1% interest, had authorized it to confirm neither Consolidated Media nor its associates held any interests in Echo shares.
Speculation was sparked in March that Mr. Packer may be considering a takeover of Echo after Crown lifted its stake in Echo and applied to regulatory authorities to be allowed to increase its stake beyond a 10% shareholder cap.
It was fueled further after reports that Packer was seeking to sell his stake in Consolidated Media.
Last week Consolidated Media said it had held "preliminary discussions" about a possible control proposal.
Consolidated Media owns a 25% share in Australia's dominant pay-television provider Foxtel and 50% of content provider Fox Sports.
Australian telecommunications giant Telstra Corp. (>> Telstra Corporation Limited) owns 50% of Foxtel while News Corp., the owner of this newswire, owns the remaining 25% of Foxtel and 50% of Fox Sports.
-By Gavin Lower, Dow Jones Newswires; 61-3-9292-2095; [email protected]