James Packer’s control over PBL will tighten a touch as a result of one of three deals announced today. One will see it extend its control over the website, Carsales.com.au, the second over the internet based jobs group, Seek, and the third will see PBL shares issued to a company associated with him to help PBL move into the British casino market.

PBL revealed three separate deals today:

The first was the the offer to buy shares in Carsales.com.au, an unlisted public company at $1.21 each. At that price Carsales is valued at $270 million.

The takeover offer followed the the purchase by PBL subsidiary ACP Magazines of an option to buy a further 3% of Carsales.com.au shares from Fairfax Digital, exercisable at $1.21 a share.

ACP already holds a stake in Carsales of 40.9% which will rise to 43.98% on exercise of the option. Fairfax Digital still retains a small holding and any remaining shareholders will be able to sell into the offer.

The bid was made as a “condition” of the purchase of the stake from Fairfax Digital.

PBL has also added to its stake in Seek by buying another 2.4% of the company, lifting its holding to 27.4%. The shares were bought at $5/04 each last Friday from interests associated with Seek founders, Andrew and Paul Bassat and Matthew Rockman.

And in the most complicated deal, PBL confirmed an earlier announcement that it was moving into the British gaming market via the purchase of up to 50% of the Aspinall’s casino business.

PBL will pay $91.8 million in either shares or in cash if shareholders do not approve the deal. 46% of Aspinall’s will be bought from vendor Ancarac Pty Ltd, a company associated with Mr Packer. 5.4 million shares will issued at a price of around $17, PBL said. That was the market price of PBL shares when negotiations were continuing.

The Ancarac transaction will need the approval of shareholders at the annual general meeting and if it is rejected, the purchase will be settled in cash, PBL said.

That will result in James Packer’s stake in PBL rising to around 39%. A further four per cent in Aspinall’s will be held via a put and call option with an unrelated third party, according to the statement from PBL.

Peter Fray

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