Billionaire James Packer resigns as Crown director

Packer Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Analysts said Mr Packer's move was paving the way for him to take Crown over and privatise it

Australian casino operator and billionaire James Packer has announced his resignation as director of Crown Resorts Limited.

The move follows his resignation as chairman in August and has added fuel to speculation he wants to buy out Crown and take it private.

It also comes amid falling revenues from Crown's operations in the gaming hub of Macau where China's corruption crackdown has hurt casino revenues.

Mr Packer owns a 53% stake in Crown.

"It looks like he's gearing up to take the firm private," IG Markets' Evan Lucas told the BBC.

"He is clearing the decks for his family business CPH (Consolidated Press Holdings) - which has the majority stake in Crown - to take it over."

Mr Packer's resignation as director of Crown removes any conflict of interest should he wish to buy out the international giant and make it private, Mr Lucas explained.

Mr Packer said it was simply the right time to resign.

"Now is the right time for me to focus my endeavours on my new role with Crown, as I outlined to shareholders when I stepped aside as chairman in August," Mr Packer said.

In response to widespread takeover speculation in the media, CPH said in a letter posted on the Australian stock exchange that if it did intend to buy out or privatise Crown - it would put forward a proposal for consideration.

Changing focus

Image copyright WILLIAM WEST
Image caption Crown Resorts was started in Melbourne and has since expanded to Sydney, Perth, London, Macau, Manila and Las Vegas.

Mr Packer will remain as co-chairman of Melco Crown Entertainment, which has operations in Manila and Macau, and co-chairman of Alon in Las Vegas.

"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," Mr Packer said.

He also said however that CPH had recently concluded "a major transaction" which had contributed to the timing of his resignation.

Consolidated Press Holdings is an investment holding company. It has various interests in publishing, television, casinos, and the entertainment sector, among others.

Crown Resorts was started in Melbourne and has since expanded to Sydney, Perth, London, Macau, Manila and Las Vegas.

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