SYDNEY (BLOOMBERG) – Blackstone Group has increased its offer for embattled Australian casino operator Crown Resorts to A$8.5 billion (S$8.4 billion) after two earlier bids were rejected as too low.

The United States buyout firm’s latest offer values Crown shares at A$12.50 each, a 26 per cent premium to its closing price on Thursday (Nov 18).

Crown, which rejected previous bids of A$11.85 and A$12.35 a share, has not yet formed a view on the merits of the proposal, it said in a statement on Friday.

The offer comes after Crown was last month given two years to address a litany of wrongdoing to save its flagship Melbourne casino.

An inquiry found that Crown was unsuitable to run the casino after underpaying taxes, facilitating money laundering and exploiting problem gamblers. The company’s behaviour was described as “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative”.

In February, Crown was found also unsuitable to run its brand-new casino in Sydney, which remains shut almost a year after its planned opening. An inquiry is also being held into Crown’s suitability to operate its Perth casino.

Any acquisition of Crown would be conditional on Blackstone receiving approval from casino regulators in the three Australian states it operates in.