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Packer lifts bid for Perth casino

Kerry Packer, left, and son James control a vast media and gaming empire.
Casinos and Gambling
Kerry Packer
1. Melbourne A$860 million
2. Sydney A$540 million
3. Gold Coast A$320 million
4. Perth A$270 million
5. Brisbane A$240 million
6. Adelaide A$90 million
7. Darwin A$55 million
Other casinos in Townsville, Cairns, Canberra, Hobart, Launceston and Alice Springs account for turnover of A$196m.
Source: ABN Amro

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) -- Australian media and gaming group Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) has lifted to Aust. $605 million ($417 million) its takeover bid for Perth's Burswood Casino.

PBL, which already owns 15.6 percent of Burswood, is controlled by Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer.

PBL's revised bid of A$1.46 a share, unveiled Monday morning, values the casino at A$715 million.

That compares to an original offer of A$1.40 a share launched in late April.

Burswood's board rejected the first offer as "inadequate" in late May. In a response Monday to the new PBL offer, Burswood advised shareholders to take no action for the time being.

Via the listed PBL, the Packer family's interests include Australia's biggest and most profitable gambling complex, Crown Casino in Melbourne, valued at A$2.7 billion.

A takeover of Burswood would mean a virtual split of the Australian casino industry between PBL and Melbourne-based Tabcorp.

Tabcorp owns the country's second biggest casino, Star City in Sydney, plus Jupiter's on the Gold Coast and the Treasury casino in Brisbane. It is also in the process of a A$2 billion takeover of Tab Ltd, a rival state-based wagering company based in Sydney.

Tabcorp's bid deadline for Tab is Wednesday this week.

New Zealand's Sky City owns a casino in Darwin.

Packer, whose family fortune is estimated at A$5.5 billion, is a major gambler in his own right, and is an occasional visitor to gambling venues in the United States and Britain.

His son, James Packer, is executive chairman of PBL and joint CEO of Consolidated Press Holdings, the controlling entity of the Packer empire.

James Packer said in a statement Monday that PBL had put a "clear and final price" on the table.

"We believe the final offer price reflects a very fair price for Burswood shareholders, particularly when compared to the Burswood share price 12 months ago of A$0.78 a share," Packer said.

PBL has made its revised offer conditional on the unanimous support of the Burswood as well as a minimum 90 percent acceptance.

Along with Crown Casino, PBL also controls the Nine television network, the Australian Consolidated Press (ACP) stable of magazines, a 25 percent stake in pay-TV operator Foxtel, and various Internet-related ventures. The Packer family also has extensive agricultural, industrial and financial services holdings.

Earlier this month, Kerry Packer reshuffled management at PBL, with incumbent CEO Peter Yates quitting suddenly. PBL's new chief executive is John Alexander, who is already CEO of the group's magazine arm, ACP.

Packer took on the role of deputy chairman and brought in outgoing SingTel Optus chairman Chris Anderson as a non-executive director.

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