FORMER CHAIRMAN AND MAJOR SHAREHOLDER
POWER SCORE: 761
POSITION LAST YEAR: Nil
CLAIMS TO FAME
- Son of legendary Australian busineass mogul Kerry Packer
- Former partner of Lawrence Ho in Macau casino operator Melco-Crown Entertainment
James Packer stepped down as Executive Chairman of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts in August 2015 and left the board entirely – for the second time in as many years – in March 2018 citing mental health issues.
But if there was one thing we learned from a recent NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority Inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a state casino license it’s that Packer has very much been the man calling the shots at Crown even after his official departure.
It was revealed during the inquiry that Crown has previously signed two highly unusual agreements with Packer’s private investment vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings – which holds his current 36.81% stake in the company – including a Controlling Shareholder Protocol that had seen Packer privy to financial updates and forecasts that other shareholders were not.
There was also a 2016 Services Agreement that allowed Crown to request the services of key CPH executives at pre-agreed hourly rates. Two of those CPH executives also served as Crown directors.
Most notable is that Packer had considerable input into the company’s International VIP strategy, a sector he enjoyed deep exposure to during his days as business partner to Lawrence Ho in the Melco-Crown tie-up, which opened Macau’s Altira, City of Dreams and Studio City. Packer last year tried to sell a 19.99% stake in Crown to Ho before Australian regulators scared that idea into submission.
It is this level of power that sees Packer rejoin our list in 2020 in place of Crown CEO Ken Barton, although with both coming under heavy fire during the recent NSW inquiry it’s likely neither will hold much sway in 12 months’ time.
For the full list of 2020 Asian Gaming Power 50 winners, click here.