No need to hide the fact he’s playing on world stage
Every year Rupert Murdoch, without fail, spends at least a week back in the country where his global media powerhouse was born.
During that week in Australia he sees everyone he needs to see, does all the business he needs to. He holds a special affection for his homeland. But with his headquarters in New York, don’t expect to see him Down Under for the rest of the year, save exceptional circumstances. Now James Packer is about to take a leaf out of Rupert’s book, the man he publicly acknowledged as one of his heroes.
Expect Packer to do a similar Australian tour of duty each year, most likely framed around the annual general meeting of his Crown Resorts.
And after relinquishing the chairmanship of Crown, the world will now be very much Packer’s oyster.
When Packer made a whirlwind visit to Sydney last week, he didn’t stay in his Bondi apartment — which has been on the market — but rather at the Park Hyatt at Circular Quay.
And Packer only made a short visit to his Park Street headquarters, the office he remade in his own image after his father’s death in 2005. It was symbolic of the billionaire’s change of mindset: he will now be very much a visitor to the country where he was born and bred. And still loves.
As he said in a statement yesterday his No 1 passion in Australia will remain seeing the successful opening of Crown Sydney at Barangaroo in 2019. And he will be an executive director at Crown.
But where the polo fields and go-cart track of his family’s Ellerston property long provided a retreat from the world, now Packer is more at home on the boulevards of Los Angeles, the bustling streets of Tel Aviv or holidaying on the beaches of the French Riviera.
The sale to Crown of a 50 per cent stake in Ellerston announced yesterday might have been tied up in the deal struck with the NSW government last year to lure VIP gamblers to Crown Sydney, but it also marked a symbolic break with the past.
Packer, who has bought a property in Tel Aviv and divides his time between the Israeli capital and the US, wants to fulfil an ambition to have a casino on the Las Vegas strip and in his private business is keen to do more with Paul Bassat’s Square Peg in the Israeli and global tech scene.
He also does business in Israel with Hollywood film producer and good friend Arnon Milchan.
CPH has taken a small stake, said to be worth about $15m, in an Israeli security company founded by Milchan seven years ago called Blue Sky International.
Packer is now playing on the global stage and sees no need any more to hide the fact.
Yesterday’s news simply made it a reality for Crown shareholders.