SYDNEY: James Packer grew up the son of Australia’s richest man, who built a media and casino empire valued at US$8.2bil (RM31.1bil).
With the death of his father Kerry, he takes charge as the family’s Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd seeks to expand in Asia and revive ratings at Australia’s most-watched television station.
Kerry died on Monday at his Sydney home, aged 68. At 38, James inherits the family business at a year older than his father did, and with more than a decade of experience at the company, including the past seven as executive chairman.
“Kerry has had a big influence in his succession planning over a number of years,” said Emilio Gonzalez, chief investment officer at Perpetual Trustees Australia Ltd. The company is “in good hands.”
Under James, who was given more responsibility after Kerry suffered heart problems in the 1990s, the company focused on casinos for growth, teaming with Hong Kong tycoon Stanley Ho to expand in Asia. At home, his Nine Network is in danger of losing its market leadership to Seven Network Ltd.
James was the driving force behind the company’s expansion into Internet businesses such as nineMSN, a venture with Microsoft Corp, and casinos in the past years, said Pollak.
Last year, Publishing & Broadcasting bought Burswood Ltd, which owns Perth’s only casino, for A$637mil.
In Macau, it has teamed with Ho to build the Park Hyatt Hotel & Casino, and is now planning a US$1bil underwater gambling establishment. The venture is also bidding to build Singapore’s first casino.
Like his father, James attended Sydney’s Cranbrook School but never went to university. He also shares his father’s passion for sport.
In 2002, he divorced former swimsuit model Jodhi Meares after a three-year marriage.
He and his sister Gretel stand to inherit Kerry’s personal wealth, which was estimated at US$5bil in Forbes magazine’s latest annual survey. – Bloomberg