No need to hide the fact he’s play­ing on world stage

The Australian - - BUSINESS - DAMON KIT­NEY COM­MENT

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.

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