Saturday, April 21, 2018

Packer cashes in his chips at Crown Resorts

Crown Resorts, Australia’s largest casino operator, faces a period of uncertainty after the shock resignation of billionaire director James Packer.

Mr Packer has announced he is stepping down from Crown’s board due to mental health issues.

His company, Consolidated Press Holdings, issued a statement saying he was resigning immediately for “personal reasons”.

“Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues,” it said. “At this time he intends to step back from all commitments.”

Crown’s executive chairman, John Alexander, said: “We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time.”

Mr Packer is Crown’s biggest shareholder. He is known to have suffered from depression and anxiety for many years, and his personal and professional life have been particularly turbulent in recent months.

His engagement to pop diva Mariah Carey ended in a multi-million dollar settlement last year following an acrimonious split.

At the same time, Crown was rocked by the jailing and criminal conviction of several employees in China for illegally promoting gambling.

The company subsequently abandoned its ambitions of becoming a global casino and hotels group, scrapping plans for casinos in Macao and Las Vegas.

“We didn’t succeed in a global strategy,” Mr Packer said at the company’s most recent annual general meeting.

Crown’s flagship casino in Southbank, Melbourne, is facing disciplinary proceedings following an investigation by the Victorian gambling regulator into allegations that management had tampered with poker machines to maximise losses.

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