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CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Australia's Crown Resorts to boost returns to shareholders after Macau sale
December 15, 2016 / 10:17 PM / a year ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Australia's Crown Resorts to boost returns to shareholders after Macau sale

(Fixes Packer shareholding in pars 2 and 5)

SYDNEY, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Australian casino group Crown Resorts on Friday said it would increase the size of a planned share buyback and distribution to investors by A$300 million ($220 million) after selling an additional stake in Macau-focused Melco Crown Entertainment.

Crown, backed by Australian billionaire James Packer, is making a near-total exit from the world’s two biggest gaming hubs, Las Vegas and Macau, as a gambling crackdown in China hits profits and throws its expansion plans into disarray.

Crown on Friday said it had reduced its stake in Melco Crown to 11.2 percent, with 5.5 percent held through a cash-settled equity swap. Combined with the planned sale of 13.4 percent of Melco Crown announced on Thursday, Crown said it would receive proceeds of A$1.9 billion from the share sales.

Crown said as a result of the extra sale of Melco Crown shares, it would boost the size of a planned share buyback by A$200 million to A$500 million. It will also increase the size of a special distribution by A$100 million to A$600 million.

Packer is a 48 percent shareholder, having cut his stake from 53 percent in August.

$1 = 1.3594 Australian dollars Reporting by Jamie Freed; Editing by Alison Williams

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