Billionaire Packer resigns as Crown Resorts director

Sydney (AFP) - Australian mogul James Packer resigned Monday from the day-to-day running of Crown Resorts but said he will remain involved with the global casino operator in a senior executive role.

The billionaire, who owns 53 percent of the Australian-based company, quit as director but will remain co-chairman of Macau-focused group Melco Crown Entertainment and Alon, the holding company for Crown's move into Las Vegas.

He said his decision followed Rob Rankin's appointment Crown chairman after Packer quit that position in August, as the tycoon spends an increasing amount of time overseas.

"I intend to devote my energies to a number of key development projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas as well as Crown's online platforms," he said in a statement.

"Of course, I remain incredibly passionate about Crown and its world-class integrated resort businesses.

"I wish Rob and the rest of the board well. I will remain in constant contact with them all, as we continue to build a world-class luxury tourism and entertainment brand."

Last week, the Australian newspaper reported that Packer was in talks with a private equity group on a proposal to take Crown private, although the company said in a statement that no offer had been received.

Crown shares Monday were 3.36 percent higher at Aus$11.99 on the Packer news.

Crown is one of Australia's largest entertainment groups, owning and operating two of the country's leading integrated resorts -- Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth.

It also operates Crown Aspinall's in London and casino and hotel properties in Macau.

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