Australian billionaire James Packer (pictured) has reportedly resigned as director of Crown Resorts Ltd. (CWN:ASE), the casino company the 50-year-old’s private investment company, Consolidated Press Holdings Pty Ltd, owns about 47% of.
A spokesman for the investment company, which is the largest shareholder of Crown Resorts, reportedly said, “Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues. At this time he intends to step back from all commitments,” according to local media reports.
For its part, in a filing to the ASE on Wednesday, Crown resorts cited “personal reasons” for the move, while in an accompanying statement executive chairman for Crown Resorts John Alexander reportedly 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.”
Packer stepped down as a director of Crown Resorts the first time in Dec. 2015, after resigning as chairman in Aug. 2015, and was succeeded by former Deutsche Bank executive Robert Rankin as the company’s chairman. Then in January last year, the Australia-based casino operator announced that Packer had been appointed as a company director, at which time Crown’s then-executive deputy chairman, John Alexander, was appointed executive chairman effective February 1, 2017.
The twice-divorced Packer is the only son of Kerry Packer, an Australian media proprietor who controlled Australian Consolidated Press and the Nine Network, which were later merged to form Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL). One of the most influential and richest men in Australia, the media mogul died at age 68 of kidney failure in Dec. 2005, after which his son took over the family business. Within three years Packer sold the majority of the family’s broadcasting and publishing stakes, for upwards of $5 billion, using the funds to build the stake in Crown Resorts.
Including the estrangement from his older sister Gretel, the past few years have been tumultuous for Packer who in Oct. 2016 ended his engagement to pop diva Mariah Carey and according to TheBlast.com, as reported by news.com.au, paid Carey somewhere between $6-$13 million (US $5-$10 million), including the value of the 35 carat diamond engagement ring which she got to keep, after dating for 18 months. The acrimonious split was followed by the June 2017 arrest of 19 Crown employees by Chinese authorities for allegedly illegally promoting gambling, which according to an Oct. 2017 interview with The Australian, shook Packer, who wasn’t on the company’s board at the time, to the core, reports Bloomberg.
Only four months later, in Oct. 2017, the China debacle was followed by three former employees of Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex alleging that the casino operator had deliberately tampered with some of the slot machines at the Melbourne venue, which escalated a month later during an official investigation by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor when a fourth individual came forward alleging the same manipulation of slots.
Making a bad situation worse, in Dec. 2017, a group of Crown Resorts shareholders launched a class-action lawsuit against the casino operator alleging failure to inform them of the company’s controversial marketing activities in China as the Shanghai arrests subsequently led to the firm’s value plummeting by more than $993 million owing to a 14% drop in its stock price.
Packer has also been tied to a scandal involving Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has been the subject of a long-running investigation into his dealings with various businessmen including receiving expensive gifts from Packer. While Packer was among those mentioned in the case, he has reportedly not been accused of any wrongdoing, according to news.com.au.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Packer is at his home in Los Angeles this week. He currently resides between homes there and in Aspen, reports the news agency.