Australian company pulls out of deal to buy Meadows' parent

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An Australian company has withdrawn its $1.8 billion offer to buy the parent company of The Meadows Racetrack and Casino, but officials say it will have no impact on operations at the slots parlor.

The Meadows will move ahead with the planned opening next month of its permanent casino, which will double the size of the slots venue and increase the number of machines to nearly 3,800.

"This development doesn't change a single thing for The Meadows Racetrack and Casino or any of its guests," spokesman David LaTorre said of yesterday's decision by Crown Ltd. to pull out of the purchase.

Crown Ltd. will pay Nevada-based Cannery Casino Resorts, owner of The Meadows and two casinos in the Las Vegas area, $50 million to back out of the deal. At the same time, it will invest $320 million in Cannery Casino Resorts.

As part of the agreement, Cannery will give Crown an option of two years to complete a purchase under terms consistent with the original deal.

However, if Crown is unable to get regulatory approvals for the new $320 million investment within 60 days, that deal would be nullified, and Crown would owe an additional termination fee of $200 million.

"Today's announcement puts [Cannery] in an enviable position in the gaming industry with a strong balance sheet, ample liquidity, exciting new properties in Nevada and Pennsylvania, great growth opportunities and more certainty for our employees," Cannery co-CEO Bill Paulos said.

The pull-out by Crown comes less than three weeks after the company insisted it wanted to complete the deal. Complicating the issue was that Gretel Packer, sister of Crown Chairman James Douglas Packer, wanted to withdraw her name and that of three family trusts she controls from the licensing application before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board because of privacy concerns.

In a statement issued yesterday, gaming board officials said they "do not anticipate there will be any interruption in the operations of The Meadows Racetrack and Casino or in the upcoming opening of its permanent facility in April.


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