Tycoon quits as Crown casino director

Tycoon James Packer, who split with singer Mariah Carey in October 2016, is said to be suffering from mental health issues.
Tycoon James Packer, who split with singer Mariah Carey in October 2016, is said to be suffering from mental health issues.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • Australian billionaire James Packer has resigned as a director of Crown Resorts, the casino company that is a source of much of his wealth, following a tumultuous period, including a break-up with singer Mariah Carey and the failure of Crown's expansion strategy.

The unexpected departure comes as Crown, the world's seventh-largest listed casino company, tries to rebuild itself after the arrest of 18 staff for breaches of gambling marketing laws in China in 2016, triggered a global pullback.

Consolidated Press Holdings, an investment company owned and controlled by Mr Packer, said in a statement: "Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues. At this time, he intends to step back from all commitments."

The 50-year-old is one of Australia's richest men, a globe-trotting billionaire who had been engaged to Carey, 47; formed a film production company with director Brett Ratner in Hollywood; and, most recently, became entangled in a corruption investigation involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

According to police in Israel, expensive cigars, jewellery and pink champagne flowed into the prime minister's official Jerusalem residence - and one of the patrons was Mr Packer, who has said he was giving Mr Netanyahu what he demanded. The case is still under investigation.

Mr Packer has been shedding assets. In December, Crown sold a vacant Las Vegas lot where it had intended to build a major casino. A month ago, he sold more than A$100 million (S$101 million) of his own shares in Crown. After that sale, his remaining stake was valued at more than A$4 billion.

He told The Australian newspaper in October "it has been a tumultuous four or five years for me".

"I've got China falling apart, the Australian casino businesses missing budgets by big amounts, I've got Mariah breaking up with me," he was quoted as saying.

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2018, with the headline 'Tycoon quits as Crown casino director'. Print Edition | Subscribe