James Packer

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For the Anglican theologian, see J. I. Packer.
James Packer
Born James Douglas Packer
(1967-09-08) 8 September 1967 (age 47)
Sydney, Australia
Nationality Australian
Education Cranbrook School, Sydney
Net worth
Children 3

James Douglas Packer (born 8 September 1967) is an Australian businessman.

Packer is the son of the late media mogul Kerry Packer and grandson of Sir Frank Packer. He inherited control of the family company, Consolidated Press Holdings Limited, which controls investments in Crown Resorts, Ratpac Entertainment, Zhoapin Pty Ltd and other companies.[3] He is the former executive chairman of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) and Consolidated Media Holdings, which predominantly owned media interests across a range of platforms.

With an assessed net worth of A$7.19 billion in 2014, Packer is ranked as the third richest Australian according to the BRW magazine;[1] having been the richest person in Australia during 2006 and 2007.[4] Forbes Asia magazine assessed Packer's net worth at US$6.6 billion in January 2014.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Packer is the son of Roslyn (née Weedon) and the late media mogul Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer and grandson of Frank Packer. Packer was born in Sydney, Australia.

Packer was educated at Cranbrook School in Bellevue Hill, Sydney. After obtaining the Higher School Certificate (HSC) at Cranbrook, Kerry decided it was time to toughen his son up to prepare him for the world of business. Thus, James was sent to his father's extensive Newcastle Waters cattle station in the Barkly Tableland of the Northern Territory, where he worked as a jackeroo. His father dismissed the idea of sending young James to university by saying "Why would he want to go there? To learn how to smoke marijuana?"[5] In addition to this, James stated that he did not attend university as he "didn't have the marks".[6]

Besides his father, his toughest mentor has been Albert J. Dunlap.[7]


Packer is currently chairperson of Crown Limited, one of Australia's largest entertainment and integrated resort groups. In October 2013, Crown's market capitalisation was over $11 billion.[8] Every year Crown's Australian resorts attract over 25 million visits.[9] Crown also holds a 33.7 equity interest in Macau based gaming group Melco-Crown (MCE).[10]

In Macau, MCE has two premium properties, City of Dreams and Altira Macau, it operates the Mocha Clubs, and has a 60% equity interest in Macau Studio City, and integrated resort project on Cotai.[11] In the Philippines, MCE, through its 69.3% owned subsidiary, Melco Crown (Philippines) Resort Corporation, has an interest in a consortium that will develop and operate an integrated resort in Manila.[12]

Early internet investments[edit]

Packer was among the first Australian investors to size up the value of internet-based companies in the years following the dotcom crash of 2000 and 2001, acquiring strategic stakes in online classified sites SEEK and CarSales. He identified early that newspaper companies that relied heavily on classified advertising, such as Fairfax Media, were vulnerable to online companies focused on key categories like jobs and cars. “I think you guys have won. Game over. And I’d like to invest in your business,’’ Packer told SEEK founders Andrew and Paul Bassat at their first meeting in March 2003.[13]

Packer purchased a 25 per cent stake in SEEK for $33 million in August 2003. He sold most of his stake six years later for $440 million.[14] Packer was a reluctant seller, but wanted the cash to build up his stake in ConsMedia to over 50 per cent. “SEEK was my favourite company of anything I ever owned,’’ Packer said later.[15] At Packer’s urging, the magazine group then controlled by his family, Australian Consolidated Press, acquired a 41 per cent stake in online advertiser carsales in October 2005.[16] The deal, initially valued at $100 million, ended up being worth $462 million to Packer-controlled entities.[17]

Selling Channel Nine[edit]

In March 2006, Packer began discussing whether to sell Channel Nine and the Australian Consolidated Press magazine group to help fund his move into the international gaming and tourism business. For most of the first half of 2006, Packer debated the idea of selling the media assets with his inner circle, including the head of investment banking at UBS Matthew Grounds and Macquarie Bank’s executive director Ben Brazil. Given the surge of the internet and the increasing footprint of pay-TV, Packer was concerned the future of free-to-air television would become increasingly challenged.[18] By July, after a series of meetings in London, Packer had decided he would sell. Soon after, UBS was given the brief to negotiate directly with private equity firms, with a non-negotiable price set of $5.5 billion. “I saw traditional media as all fights and no reward; and I believed the internet was coming,’’ Packer said later.[18] On October 17, 2006, Packer’s team finalised a deal to sell 50 per cent of the media assets - which also included a 50 per cent stake in web portal ninemsn and a 51 per cent stake in Carsales - to private equity group CVC Asia Pacific for $4. 5 billion, plus an additional billion dollars in equity in the new company, which would be called PBL Media.[18]

In June 2007, Packer sold another 25 per cent share of the joint-venture PBL Media to CVC for $515 million. In October 2008, Packer wrote down his final 25 per cent stake in PBL Media to zero.[18] By the end of 2012, debt from CVC’s acquisition had overwhelmed Channel Nine and US hedge funds ousted CVC, taking 100 per cent ownership. Looking back, Packer said the decision to sell had been relatively easy, despite his family’s historic ties to Channel Nine. “I thought the internet was going to make it much tougher for those businesses – that one was probably the right call,’’ he said.[19]


Main article: One.Tel

Packer was a director of Australian Telecommunications company One.Tel, which was declared insolvent during May 2001. The collapse of One.Tel cost PBL A$327 million. Packer admitted at a PBL Annual General Meeting that he had learned "painful lessons" from the collapse of One.Tel. Later at the liquidator's inquiry over the collapse he denied that he was apologising for his own personal conduct; instead he claimed, "I was making an apology for accepting the bona fides of Mr. Rich and a Mr. Heaney, and the executive directors of One.Tel."[citation needed]

In April 2014, Lachlan Murdoch and Packer agreed to a $40 million settlement over the One.Tel failure. The settlement was approved by the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 17 April 2014, with $14.93 million to be paid by the Packer family’s Consolidated Press Holdings, $11.77 million to be paid by Packer’s Crown Resorts and $13.3 million to be paid by News Corp.[20]

Current interests[edit]

Crown Resorts[edit]

Since his father's death, Packer has moved away from the family's traditional media businesses, and focused on creating a worldwide gambling empire, Crown.[citation needed] Crown is one of Australia’s largest entertainment and resort groups. It has businesses and investments in the integrated resort and entertainment sectors in Australia and Macau, and wholly owns and operates a high-end casino in London, Crown Aspinall’s.[21] In October 2013, Crown’s market capitalization was over $11 billion.[8] Crown's two Australian resorts, Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth, feature over 2,300 hotel rooms, VIP villas, gaming areas, resort pools, luxury spas, signature restaurants and retail, convention centres and live entertainment venues. Every year Crown’s Australian resorts attract over 25 million visits.[9] Over one third of Crown’s revenue in fiscal 2013 was estimated to be generated from international visitors. The majority of this revenue is from Asian customers, which makes Crown one of the most significant international tourism operators in Australia with a particular focus on tourism from Asia.[22] Crown is investing over $2.7 billion between financial year 2009 and financial year 2016 in upgrading and opening new attractions at its Australian resorts.[23]

In 2009 Crown lost US$250 million in failed casino investment company in the US, Fontainebleau Resorts. Crown also paid US$242 million for a stake in Station Casinos which is now considered almost worthless.[24] Packer has successfully added further gaming assets in Macau, in partnership with Lawrence Ho, the son of Dr. Stanley Ho, through the SEHK and NASDAQ-listed Melco Crown Entertainment (MCE).[25][26]

As at 30 June 2013, Crown held a 33.7 equity interest in MCE.[10] Crown’s initial investment in Melco Crown Entertainment was $US600 million, the market cap of Crown’s investment as at 30 October 2013, was US$6.2 billion.[27] At Crown’s annual meeting in October 2013 Packer said “Crown’s investment through our partnership with Melco International Development has now grown to be one of the largest Australian joint-venture partnerships operating inside China”.[27]

In Macau, MCE has two premium properties, City of Dreams and Altira Macau, it operates the Mocha Clubs, and has a 60% equity interest in Macau Studio City, and integrated resort project on Cotai.[28] In the Philippines, MCE, through its 69.3% owned subsidiary, Melco Crown (Philippines) Resort Corporation, has an interest in a consortium that will develop and operate an integrated resort in Manila.[12]

In 2011, Packer's ASX-listed Crown Limited acquired a 100% interest in the prestigious Aspinall's Club in London, developed through a joint venture between Crown and Packer's family friend, Damian Aspinall,[29] the son of John Aspinall. Crown has since rebranded Aspinall's Club to Crown Aspinall's.[30]

Together with Damian Aspinall, Packer is creating a group of casino complexes in Great Britain called Aspers.[citation needed] Packer already has a stake in casinos in London's West End, Swansea, and Newcastle.[citation needed] Packer's bid for a UK "supercasino" based in Cardiff fell through when only one licence was granted to the northern city of Manchester.[31] PBL also owns 50% of the online gambling company Betfair. Packer also owns Melbourne's Crown Casino, Australia's largest casino.

Other business activities[edit]

Packer purchased an 18% stake in Network Ten in 2010, quickly offloading half to Lachlan Murdoch. Three months later after a dispute with Murdoch over a senior management appointment Packer resigned his Network Ten board seat. There was also speculation that Packer resigned due to a conflict of interest with his interests in Consolidated Media Holdings.[32]

In late May 2011 Packer made a reported A$80 million investment in daily deals sites Scoopon and Catch of the Day through a partnership between his Consolidated Press Holding and several other investors, including Andrew Bassat, a co-founder of Seek.com.au.[33]

In December 2012, Packer and producer-filmmaker Brett Ratner formed a joint venture, RatPac Entertainment. The firm will produce independent films and co-produce big-budget films with a major studio.[34] RatPac and Dune Entertainment formed a film investment vehicle, which in September 2013, entered a multi-year, 75-film co-financing partnership with Warner Bros.[35]

The first film financed by RatPac was a major success. Gravity, a space thriller directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, generated the strongest ever October opening in the US and took box office receipts of more than US$100 million in its first five days.[36] "We all know it (producing movies) is a high-risk business and when your first movie starts like this all you can say is 'thank you', Packer said.[36]

In October 2014, Packer bought out Peter Holmes à Court's 37.5% share of the ownership of South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL club, becoming Russell Crowe's partner in the venture.[37]

In December 2014, James Packer signed a deal with Matthew Tripp, which gained Packer control over Tripp’s online betting platform – BetEasy.[38]

In July 2014, Packer announced the launch of the "National Philanthropic Fund", being funded 50/50 between himself and Crown Resorts, to support education, arts and other projects.


Packer first appeared on various wealth lists in 2006, following the death of his father the previous year and the intergeneration transfer of the bulk of Kerry Packer's wealth to his son, James. James Packer's wealth was valued at A$7.25 billion in 2007, however due to poor investment decisions and falling profits, a television report[citation needed] on 21 June 2007 revealed that Packer had lost in excess of $1 billion over the previous six months. As a result, the 2008 BRW Rich 200 listed Packer as the third richest person in Australia with a personal wealth of A$6.1 billion, behind Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Andrew Forrest and Westfield Group's Frank Lowy. That was the first time in 21 years that a member of the Packer family had not topped the list.[39] According to BRW, Packer's wealth dipped to an estimated A$3 billion during 2009.[40] In its 2013 BRW Rich 200 list, Packer was ranked third with his wealth estimated at A$6.0 billion, a boost of A$1.1 billion on the previous year. In the 2014 wealth rankings by BRW, Packer's wealth was assessed at A$7.19 billion, making him the third richest Australian.[1][41]

On 18 January 2009, The Sunday Telegraph reported that due to ongoing financial problems, Packer's wealth dropped to under A$3 billion; also reporting that Packer listed for sale his Mangusta yacht and delayed the purchase of a Boeing Business jet.[42] Yet by mid-2010, it was reported that Packer owned a number of assets including Ellerston Z (a superyacht), Arctic P (a luxury cruise ship and former ice-breaker), a private jet, a 12-seater Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, and a variety of cars including an Aston Martin DB9 coupe.[43]

As of March 2013, Forbes magazine estimated that Packer's wealth had increased to US$6 billion,[44] with a further increase to US$6.60 billion published by Forbes in their 2014 list of the richest people in Australia.[2]

Wealth rankings[edit]

Year BRW
Rich 200
Australia's 40 Richest
Rank Net worth (AUD) Rank Net worth (USD)
2006[45] 1 Increase $7.10 billion Increase 1 Increase $5.20 billion Increase
2007[46][47] 1 Increase $7.25 billion Increase 1 Steady $5.50 billion Increase
2008[39][48] 3 Decrease $6.10 billion Decrease 3 Decrease $5.30 billion Decrease
2009[40][49] 6 Decrease $3.00 billion Decrease 1 Increase $3.10 billion Decrease
2010[50][51] 6 Steady $4.10 billion Increase 3 Decrease $3.50 billion Increase
2011[52][53] 8 Decrease $4.16 billion Increase 3 Steady $4.40 billion Increase
2012[54][55] 6 Steady $5.21 billion Increase 4 Decrease $4.50 billion Increase
2013[56][57] 3 Increase $6.00 billion Increase 3 Increase $6.00 billion Increase
2014[1][2] 3 Steady $7.19 billion Increase 3 Steady $6.60 billion Increase
Icon Description
Steady Has not changed from the previous year
Increase Has increased from the previous year
Decrease Has decreased from the previous year

Personal life[edit]

Packer's past girlfriends have included Tania Bryer, Joan Severance and Deni Hines. After breaking off a two-year engagement to Kate Fischer, in October 1999, he married swimsuit model Jodhi Meares from whom he separated in June 2002 and then divorced. He owns residential property in Bondi Beach and in Bellevue Hill, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Packer married model and singer Erica Baxter,[58] whom he wed in the equivalent of a civil ceremony on 20 June 2007 after dating on and off for four years. The wedding was at the Antibes town hall, and the second ceremony took place at Hotel du Cap – Eden Roc in Cap d'Antibes on the French Riviera.[59][60] Together, Packer and Baxter have 3 children: a daughter Indigo, born 27 July 2008, a son Jackson Lloyd, born 1 February 2010, and a daughter Emmanuelle Sheelah, born 22 September 2012.[61] In September 2013 James and Erica Packer announced they were separating.[62]

In 2002, following the breakdown of his first marriage, and the development of a friendship with Tom Cruise,[63] Packer began attending the Church of Scientology in Australia, taking courses on the Church's Dundas business centre.[64] He subsequently confirmed his involvement with Scientology, saying he had found it "helpful".[65] He later distanced himself from the church.[66]

Packer was involved in a public physical brawl at Bondi Beach in 2014 with David Gyngell, a long-term friend and head of Channel Nine. The fight caused considerable, embarrassing publicity to both parties.[67][68][69][70]


Packer and his family have contributed significantly to the wider Australian community through the family foundation, the Packer Family Foundation Board, which is chaired by his sister Gretel. He also is a major contributor through his majority-holding in Crown Resorts, which he chairs. Crown has its own foundation, the Crown Resorts Foundation, which provides funds to the arts, community welfare, education, health care and the environment. In July 2014 Packer launched a new initiative, the National Philanthropic Fund, to which his family foundation, and the Crown foundation would each contribute $100 million over 10 years to support community projects in Australia.[71]


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External links[edit]