Australian billionaire Crown owner quits board as Macau woes deepen

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Australian billionaire James Packer quit the board of casino giant CrownResorts Ltd, four months after stepping down as chairman, as it grapples with falling revenue in the Asian gambling hub of Macau.

In a statement on Monday, Packer, who owns 53 percent of the A$9 billion ($6.5 billion) company, did not give a reason for stepping down but said he planned to devote his energy to development projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas.

The move cuts Packer’s influence over the firm he said “represents the vast majority of my net wealth” as it weathers a slump in Macau, where gambling revenue has fallen for 18 straight months because of a Chinese government graft crackdown.

Crown has a one-third stake in Hong Kong-based Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd, which in 2015 opened a 420,000 square foot casino in Macau. Crown shares rose as much as 5 percent in a flat overall market on Monday.

The statement added that Packer’s private investment vehicle, Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd, “recently concluded a major transaction in my family’s business and this also has assisted the timing of my decision”.

It gave no further details of the Consolidated Press transaction but added that “Gretel and I have never been closer”. In October, Australian media reported that Packer’s sister, Gretel Packer, would receive a portion of James’s wealth following a confidential settlement.

James Packer took over the running of Crown, then a media conglomerate called Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd, following his father’s death in 2005, and transformed it into one of the world’s biggest casino developers and operators.

In August, he surprised investors by quitting as Crown chairman the same day the company reported a one-fifth decline in annual net profit because of lower Macau earnings.

A week ago, Crown shares rallied after Australian media reported Packer was in talks with private financiers about a possible proposal to take the company private, a move Packer said was not imminent the following day.

Also read: Las Vegas Sands CEO Adelson says Macau gaming market near bottom, sees 2016 turnaround

Genting sells UK online gaming biz to Genting Malaysia for $11m

Reuters

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.