Australian casino operator Star Entertainment Group on Monday proposed an all-stock buyout of larger rival Crown Resorts Ltd that it valued at A$9 billion ($7 billion), vying with two private equity giants for control of the troubled target.

No. 2 casino player Star said it was proposing to give 2.68 of its shares for each share of Crown, and estimated Star shares would be worth A$5 each if the deal went ahead – up from A$3.91 at their last close – implying a A$9 billion sale price. Just minutes earlier, buyout specialist Blackstone Group upped an all-cash indicative offer to A$8.4 billion, Crown said. Another private equity player, Oaktree Capital Group, has put a proposal to bankroll a A$3 billion buyback of Crown’s founder’s stake.

Star’s move reflects the intense interest in a company with prized tourism and real estate assets on both Australian coasts at a time when its profits and share price have been hit by coronavirus-related border closures and regulatory headaches.

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