James Packer quits Crown Resorts board

James Packer quits Crown Resorts board

Casino mogul James Packer has stepped down from his position as director of Crown Resorts Ltd., four months after resigning as chairman of the Australian casino giant.

James Packer quits Crown Resorts boardIn a statement on Monday, Packer did not give a reason for his resignation, which is “effective immediately.”

Packer’s recent move cuts the businessman’s influence over the company that makes up “the vast majority” of his wealth. ASX-listed Crown’s shares lost one-fifth of their value this year due to the ongoing revenue slump in Macau, which was brought by the Chinese government’s crackdown against corruption.

Crown has a one-third stake in Lawrence Ho’s Melco Crown Entertainment, which recently opened the 420,000-square foot Studio City in Macau.

“Now is the right time for me to focus my endeavours on my new role with Crown, as I outlined to shareholders when I stepped aside as chairman in August,” Packer said. “I intend to devote my energies to a number of key development products in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas as well as Crown’s online platforms.”

The statement also noted that Packer’s private investment arm, Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd. “recently concluded a major transaction in my family’s business and this has also has assisted the timing of my decision.”

The Aussie businessman, who owns 53 percent of the US$6.5 billion company, took over the reins of Crown—then called Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd.—after his father died in 2005, transforming the media company into one of the world’s biggest casino developers and operators.

But Packer surprised investors back in August when he announced that he is quitting as Crown chairman after the company delivered a “mixed” fiscal year report. He was replaced by Rankin, former CEO of Packer family biz Consolidated Press Holdings.

Last week, however, Crown shares surged after Australian media reported the billionaire is in talks with potential partners regarding taking certain assets of Crown private. The news sent Crown’s shares up 14 percent, its biggest one-day gain since 2009.

“This is not an ending, but a phase and an internal transition,” said Crown Resorts Chairman Robert Rankin. “James will continue to have a very active involvement in his new role and as the major shareholder of the company. And, of course, as the major shareholder, it is open to James to return to the Crown board at some time in the future.”

Packer boosted his Crown stake by 22 million shares in November, a purchase worth around $260 million. This increases the businessman’s voting rights to 53.01 percent from the previous 50.01 percent.