James Packer (pictured) is to remain as co-chairman of Asian casino developer Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd – despite stepping down as of Monday as a director of Australian casino firm Crown Resorts Ltd, an investor in Melco Crown.
The news was given in a filing on the day to the Australian Securities Exchange that confirmed Mr Packer would no longer be a director of Crown Resorts.
The entrepreneur would also remain co-chairman of Alon, a Las Vegas casino resort project, said the filing.
“If you want to build a globally iconic, integrated resort company then you have to be in Las Vegas and our team on the ground are working well and we are seeing good progress there,” Mr Packer was quoted saying in an interview with the Australian Financial Review, published on Sunday.
Mr Packer’s decision to step down as a Crown Resorts director comes only four months after he resigned as chairman, becoming an executive director instead. He was succeeded as chairman by former Deutsche Bank AG executive Robert Rankin. In November 2014, Mr Rankin had been named chief executive of Mr Packer’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings Pty Ltd.
According to a recent note by Credit Suisse AG, Consolidated Press Holdings has a controlling 53.1 percent stake in Crown Resorts.
The latest Crown Resorts boardroom move occurs shortly after Bloomberg News reported that Consolidated Press Holdings had been talking with private equity investors and pension funds about a possible bid to take private some or all of Crown’s assets.
Crown Resorts’ debt-to-earnings ratio has recently been under scrutiny from the ratings sector and from some sell-side investment analysts.
In August Crown Resorts said its net profit for financial year ending June 30 was down 41 percent due to a slump in earnings from its Macau interests.
As of August Crown Resorts owned a 34.3-percent stake in Asian casino developer Melco Crown, which on August 7 reported an 83-percent decline in net profit for the second quarter of 2015.
Crown Resorts had on Thursday said it was unaware of any potential bid for its assets, while Consolidated Press Holdings said it hadn’t made any offer.
“Now is the right time for me to focus my endeavours on my new role with Crown [Resorts],” Mr Packer said in Monday’s filing. “I intend to devote my energies to a number of key development projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas as well as Crown’s online platforms.”
The Australian Financial Review quoted Mr Packer saying he found it “frustrating” that there had not been better progress on planning permissions for his AUD$2-billion (US$1.4-billion) Crown Sydney casino project at Barangaroo in New South Wales.
A report in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper in October said that delays to some ground preparation work for Crown Sydney could cause the opening of the project to be delayed past its permitted operational start of late 2019, “to 2020 or beyond”.
Mr Rankin, the Crown Resorts chairman, said in Monday’s filing there was still the possibility of Mr Packer returning to the Crown Resorts board.
“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 [Resorts] board at some time in the future,” Mr Rankin said in the filing.
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”We expect Goa to quickly become a US$1 billion market as it transitions to land-based casinos (from US$150 million today), which is still just a fraction of India’s total GGR potential of US$10 billion to US$17 billion”
Analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia