James Packer Leaves the Board of 22 Australian Companies
James Packer, owner of 47% of Crown Resorts Limited shares, quit the board of directors of 22 different companies in recent weeks. James Packer sat on the board of some of Australia’s biggest companies, including Qantas Airlines and CPH.
The Australian billionaire left Crown’s board in April due to self-described mental health issues. When the announcement happened, James Packer won praise for his honesty and transparency.
John Brogden, chairman of Lifeline, the Australian crisis support service, wrote in an Australian Financial Review opinion piece, “This makes Packer a lonely figure in business, but at the same time a brave and important one.”
Brogden added that business leaders often are hesitant to reveal mental health issues, because of “how that would be perceived by the markets or by their colleagues”.
Packer Left CPH on June 28
James Packer stepped down from the board of Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), Packer’s holding company which owns 47% of Crown Resorts Limited, on June 28. At the time, CPH said in a statement at the time, “The [company] changes are largely administrative in nature and reflect attempts to modernise and simplify the corporate structures.”
Packer inherited Consolidated Press Holdings in December 2005, when his father, Australian media mogul Kerry Packer, died. James Packer sold many of the family’s media assets to focus on casinos, which has been a roller-coaster ride for the Aussie billionaire in the years since.
Crown’s Macau holdings once made James Packer Australia’s richest person, though the 2007/2008 Global Recession led to a failed project in Las Vegas and the 2014 decline of Macau caused Crown shares to fall by as much as 30% to 40% at times.
James Packer’s Business Career
For more than a decade, James Packer has been one of Australia’s highest profile businessmen. Packer is worth US$4.1 billion at the moment, while he has been linked romantically to some of the world’s most famous celebrity women.
In 2014, James Packer was seen yachting with Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr — a fellow Aussie. In 2016, he was engaged to American pop diva Mariah Carey.
Embarrassing Moments for Crown’s CEO
At the same time, James Packer’s had several embarrassing public moments. In 2014, the Crown CEO had a street brawl with Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell, who was best man at Packer’s wedding back in the 2000s.
On New Year’s Eve 2016, Packer had a shoving match with Dr Iskandar Chaban, a 60-year old contract security guard at Crown Melbourne. Chaban failed to recognize Packer at his own casino, causing Packer to shout at the man and fire him on the spot.
The man collapsed due to shock and was rushed to a nearby hospital. Eventually, Dr. Chaban was rehired, but suspended. His son defended him in the Australian press, saying Iskandar Chaban had taken the job to pay off his mortgage. While it was smoothed over, the incident was another case of bad press for Crown Resorts.
Crown Workers Arrested in China
Later that year, James Packer would return from a self-imposed exile at Crown Resorts. In October 2016, Shanghai police arrested 16 Crown workers in their Chinese advertising division for airing illegal casino ads. Packer returned in December 2016 to chart a new course for the company and handle relations with the Chinese government, where he had had business interests since 2005.
Despite a 2016 breakup with Mariah Carey, James Packer seemed to be in control of the situation. By summer 2017, China released the 16 workers with time served and a $1.5 million fine for Crown Resorts. Crown had sold its shares in Melco Crown, a Chinese-Australian company, which since has rebranded itself Melco Resorts & Entertainment. Crown Resorts had refocused its operations in Australia, with Packer taking personal charge of the Crown Barangaroo/Crown Sydney development.
Boston to Argentina to Mexico
Thus, it was a surprise when James Packer left Crown Resorts in April 2018. It was more of a surprise when it was announced Packer had checked him in to a Boston-area mental hospital. Just as soon, he checked himself out and move to his mansion in Argentina.
A couple of months later, the Australian press announced James Packer had moved to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. That was the last solid report of James Packer’s whereabouts. He was reported to be spending time with a small group of friends in Mexico’s Pacific Ocean coastline, in a spot known for its beaches, resorts, and nightspots.
Now James Packer has resigned from all roles in Australia’s corporate sector. One hopes he returns to Crown Resorts in the future, as he is synonymous with Australia’s largest land-based casino company.