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VRC chairman Burn heads up Macquarie-led bid for Tatts

Thu, Dec 15, 12:17pm by Senior Writer

The man behind the audacious bid by a consortium led by Macquarie to snatch Tatts from the grasp of a Tabcorp merger is none other than Victoria Racing Club chairman Michael Burn.

The Australian has confirmed that Macquarie banker Burn is heading up Pacific Consortium, which includes 30 per cent shareholdings from Morgan Stanley Infrastructure, US private equity giant KKR and First State Super.

They launched a $8.4 billion bid this week to foil Tabcorp at the alter and secure the Tatts business, but have indicated that they want to offload the wagering and gaming aspects and keep the lottery business.

But Tabcorp have indicated it will take an all-or-nothing approach to its merger with Tatts, saying it is not interested in a spare parts deal.

Tatts have indicated that the Tabcorp deal is still progressing but that it had a duty to assess the value of the Pacific Consortium’s bid.

On face value, it is a better deal than that offered by Tabcorp, who themselves were rumoured to be an acquisition target of Ladbrokes in recent months.

If Burn and his consortium were to secure Tatts in a stunning swoop, the question would be what happens to the wagering and gaming business, which controls the retail wagering license for Queensland and South Australia under the UBet brand.

Well Burn is a man of many hats, including as chairman of the Victoria Racing Club, The VRC are co-shareholders in racing media business, which is also co-owned by the Seven West Media.

The Australian has indicted Seven West Media’s boss Kerry Stokes is interested in acquiring a wagering business and is set to bid for the WA TAB business when it is privatised in the coming year.

However, the availability of the UBet brand and Tatts’ other gaming businesses would also appeal greatly to Stokes.

SWM have made no secret that their investment in, which it co-owns with the various stakeholders of the Victorian racing industry, is aimed at building a long-term wagering company.

Tabcorp’s joint-venture agreement with the Victorian racing industry ends in 2023, after which point its 12-year wagering licence, which gives it retail exclusivity in the state, also expires.

If Stokes realises his ambitions of building a wagering business, his Seven West Media business would control both the media and wagering assets in Victoria to build a case to bid for the next round of wagering licenses, whatever that would look like.

Burn’s involvement in Pacific Consortium certainly adds an extra level of intrigue to the ever changing politics of the businesses of gambling and racing.

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