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Crown shares slump 11 per cent after China arrests

Mon, Oct 17, 2:34pm by Staff Writer

The fallout from the arrest of 18 Crown Resorts employees in China has seen 11 per cent wiped off the share price of the company on Monday.

News broke over the weekend that 18 staff from the gambling giant, including three high-powered Australian executives, had been arrested in China.

Chinese officials have only confirmed that they are being held over ‘gambling crimes’ after a wave of raids across mainland cities in China.

Crown Resorts has major investments in two casinos in Macau, the only Chinese territory where casino gambling is legalised.

A major corruption crackdown has led to a slide in the Macau market, which adversely impacted the Crown business, prompting the business to separate into Australian and overseas business.

But the latest development has sent and even bigger shudder through Crown, which slumped dramatically when the market opened Monday, wiping half a billion dollars off the value of James Packer’s shares alone.

Packer is the major shareholder of the company at around 49 per cent and has been the driving force behind Crown’s international expansion.

The 18 arrested are believed to be from Crown’s marketing arm, the role of which is to lure big gamblers from places such as China to Crown’s casinos.

It is illegal in China to advertise gambling in any form, however, it is not illegal to advertise the resorts which accompany many of the casinos.

Senior international VIP manager, Jason O’Connor, was in China when the arrest occurred although it hasn’t been confirmed that he is among those who have been detained.

The fallout was not limited to Crown with investors nervous over any casino business which relies on the lucrative Chinese market. The share price of Crown’s largest Australian competitor, The Star. fell more than 5 per cent.

“To date, Crown has not been able to speak with its employees and is working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to urgently make contact with and ascertain the welfare of its employees,” Crown said in a statement to the ASX on Monday.

“Crown is endeavouring to provide support to the families of its employees in China and Australia.”

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