Packer is the son of philanthropist Roslyn and media mogul Kerry Packer. He is the grandson of Sir Frank Packer. James Packer inherited control of the family company, Consolidated Press Holdings Limited, with investments in Crown Resorts and other companies. He is the former executive chairman of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) and Consolidated Media Holdings, which predominantly owned media interests across a range of platforms and also a former executive chairman of Crown Resorts.
In May 2016, Packer's net worth was assessed as A$5.00 billion by the BRW Rich 200, ranked as the seventh-richest Australian; having been the richest person in Australia in 2006 and 2007. Meanwhile, Forbes Asia magazine assessed Packer's net worth at US$3.9 billion in March 2017, as the ninth-richest Australian.
Packer was educated at Cranbrook School in Bellevue Hill, Sydney. After obtaining the Higher School Certificate (HSC) at Cranbrook, he began working at his father's extensive Newcastle Waters cattle station in the Barkly Tableland of the Northern Territory, where he was a jackeroo. Packer has stated he did not attend university as he "didn't have the marks".
Packer is the major shareholder and a Director of Crown Resorts Limited, one of Australia's largest casino groups. In October 2017, Crown's market capitalisation was over A$8 billion. Every year Crown's Australian resorts attract over 31 million visits.
Following the dotcom crash of 2000–2001, Packer acquired stakes in the online classified sites SEEK and CarSales, believing that newspaper companies relying heavily on classified advertising were vulnerable to online companies in categories including employment and vehicle listings.:15
Packer purchased a 25% stake in SEEK for A$33 million in August 2003. He sold most of his stake six years later for A$440 million.:53:242 At Packer's urging, the magazine group then controlled by his family, Australian Consolidated Press, acquired a 41% stake in online advertiser Carsales in October 2005.:101 The deal, initially valued at A$100 million, was eventually worth A$462 million to Packer-controlled entities.
In March 2006, Packer began discussing whether to sell Channel Nine and the Australian Consolidated Press magazine group to help fund his move into the international gaming and tourism business. Given changes in media due to the Internet and pay-TV, Packer was concerned about the future of free-to-air television.:140:150 On 17 October 2006, Packer's team finalised a deal to sell 50% of the media assets—which also included a 50% stake in web portal Ninemsn and a 51% stake in Carsales—to private equity group CVC Asia Pacific for A$4.5 billion, plus an additional A$1 billion in equity in the new company, which would be called PBL Media.:213
In June 2007, Packer sold another 25% share of the joint-venture PBL Media to CVC for $515 million. In October 2008, Packer wrote down his final 25% stake in PBL Media to zero.:222 By the end of 2012, debt from CVC's acquisition had overwhelmed Channel Nine and US hedge funds ousted CVC, taking complete ownership.
Packer was a director of Australian Telecommunications company One.Tel, which was declared insolvent during May 2001. The collapse of One.Tel cost PBL A$327 million. Packer admitted at a PBL annual general meeting that he had learned "painful lessons" from the collapse of One.Tel. Later at the liquidator's inquiry over the collapse he denied that he was apologising for his own personal conduct; instead, he claimed, "I was making an apology for accepting the bona fides of Mr. Rich and a Mr. Heaney, and the executive directors of One.Tel."
In April 2014, Lachlan Murdoch and Packer agreed to a A$40 million settlement over the One.Tel failure. The settlement was approved by the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 17 April 2014, with A$14.93 million to be paid by the Packer family's Consolidated Press Holdings, A$11.77 million to be paid by Packer's Crown Resorts and A$13.3 million to be paid by News Corp.
Since his father's death, Packer has moved away from the family's traditional media businesses and focused on creating a worldwide gambling empire: Crown Resorts. Crown is one of Australia's largest gambling and resort groups. It has businesses and investments in the integrated resort and casino sectors in Australia and Macau, and wholly owns and operates a high-end casino in London, Crown Aspinall's. In October 2017, Crown's market capitalization was over $8 billion. Crown's two Australian resorts, Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth, feature over 2,750 hotel rooms, VIP villas, gambling areas, resort pools, luxury spas, signature restaurants and retail, convention centres and live entertainment venues. Every year Crown's Australian resorts and casinos attract over 31 million visits. Over one third of Crown's revenue in fiscal 2016 was estimated to be generated from international visitors, mostly Asian customers. Crown announced investment of over A$4.1 billion between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2017, to upgrade and open new attractions at its Australian resorts, including the significant development A$2 billion Crown Sydney Hotel Resort which is expected to open in 2020.
In 2009 Crown lost US$250 million in failed casino investment company in the US, Fontainebleau Resorts. Crown also paid US$242 million for a stake in Station Casinos which is now considered almost worthless.
As at 30 June 2013, Crown held a 33.7% equity interest in MCE. Crown's initial investment in Melco Crown Entertainment was US$600 million, the market cap of Crown's investment as at 30 October 2013, was US$6.2 billion. At Crown's annual meeting in October 2013 Packer said "Crown's investment through our partnership with Melco International Development has now grown to be one of the largest Australian joint-venture partnerships operating inside China". Crown completed the sell down of this investment in May 2017.
Betfair Australasia was formed as a 50/50 joint venture between Crown Resorts and Betfair Group plc. In August 2014, Crown Resorts announced it had acquired Betfair Group plc's 50% equity interest in Betfair Australasia Pty Limited (Betfair Australasia) for consideration of $10 million.
In 2011, Packer's ASX-listed Crown Limited acquired a 100% interest in the prestigious Aspinall's Club in London, developed through a joint venture between Crown and Packer's family friend, Damian Aspinall, the son of John Aspinall. Crown has since rebranded Aspinall's Club to Crown Aspinall's.
Together with Damian Aspinall, Packer's Crown Resorts holds a 50% equity interest in a group of casino complexes in Great Britain called Aspers, which operate four regional casinos in the United Kingdom, in Newcastle upon Tyne, Stratford, East London, Milton Keynes and Northampton. Packer's bid for a UK "supercasino" based in Cardiff fell through when only one licence was granted to the northern city of Manchester.
In December 2014, Crown Resorts signed a deal with Matthew Tripp, which gave Crown Resorts control over Tripp's online betting platform, CrownBet, formerly known as BetEasy. In April 2016 CrownBet pleaded guilty to five counts of breaching laws by publishing illegal betting advertising that offered inducements for NSW residents to gamble. According to the NSW Department of Justice, CrownBet "sought to have the matters finalised without conviction in Downing Centre Local Court ..... but Magistrate Joanne Keogh said convictions were necessary for general deterrence to others in the industry and to protect the vulnerable. CrownBet was convicted of the five offences and ordered to pay a total of $10,500 in fines and also ordered to pay ... legal costs of $10,000."
On 21 March 2018 James Packer resigned as an executive chairman of Crown Resorts. "Mr James Packer today resigned from the board of Crown Resorts Ltd for personal reasons," a spokesperson for Mr Packer's company, Consolidated Press Holdings, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Packer purchased an 18% stake in Network Ten in 2010, quickly offloading half to Lachlan Murdoch. Three months later after a dispute with Murdoch over a senior management appointment Packer resigned his Network Ten board seat. There was also speculation that Packer resigned due to a conflict of interest with his interests in Consolidated Media Holdings. Following the implementation of CBS's restructure of Network Ten announced in August 2017, Packer will no longer have an interest in Network Ten.
In late May 2011 Packer made a reported A$80 million investment in daily deals sites Scoopon and Catch of the Day through a partnership between his Consolidated Press Holding and several other investors, including Andrew Bassat, a co-founder of Seek.com.au.
In December 2012, Packer and producer-filmmaker Brett Ratner formed a joint venture, RatPac Entertainment. The first film financed by RatPac was a major success. Gravity, a space thriller directed by Alfonso Cuaron and starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, generated the strongest-ever October opening in the US and took box office receipts of more than US$100 million in its first five days. "We all know it [producing movies] is a high-risk business and when your first movie starts like this all you can say is 'thank you', Packer said. Packer sold his investment in RatPac for an undisclosed amount in April 2017.
In late 2016, Israeli Police started looking into reports that Packer gave members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's family gifts and benefits. Packer, who is trying to gain residency in Israel, has taken the first step and registered with Israeli tax authorities.
On 14 February 2018 Packer was mentioned in an Israeli Police report recommending the prosecution of Israel PM Netanyahu on corruption charges for accepting bribes, and acting against the interests of the state of Israel. Packer is mentioned in the report to have provided Netanyahu and his family members with Champagne, Cigars, Jewelry and Clothing valued at approximately US$100,000.
Packer first appeared on various wealth lists in 2006, following the death of his father the previous year and the intergeneration transfer of the bulk of Kerry Packer's wealth to his son, James. James Packer's wealth was valued at A$7.25 billion. A television report on 21 June 2007 alleged that Packer had lost in excess of A$1 billion over the previous six months in 2007 due to poor investment decisions and falling profits. The 2008 BRW Rich 200 listed Packer as the third-richest person in Australia with a personal wealth of A$6.1 billion, behind Fortescue Metals Group chief executive Andrew Forrest and Westfield Group's Frank Lowy. That was the first time in 21 years that a member of the Packer family had not topped the list. According to BRW, Packer's wealth dipped to an estimated A$3 billion during 2009. In its 2013 BRW Rich 200 list, Packer was ranked third with his wealth estimated at A$6.0 billion, a boost of A$1.1 billion on the previous year. In the 2014 wealth rankings by BRW, Packer's wealth was assessed at A$7.19 billion, making him the third-richest Australian. In 2015 BRW Rich 200, Packer's net worth was assessed at A$6.08 billion, making him the seventh-richest Australian.
On 18 January 2009, The Sunday Telegraph reported that due to ongoing financial problems, Packer's wealth dropped to under A$3 billion; also reporting that Packer listed for sale his Mangusta yacht and delayed the purchase of a Boeing business jet. Yet by mid-2010, it was reported that Packer owned a number of assets including Ellerston Z (a superyacht), Arctic P (a luxury cruise ship and former ice-breaker), a private jet, a 12-seater Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, and a variety of cars including an Aston Martin DB9 coupe.
As of March 2017, Forbes magazine estimated Packer's wealth at US$3.9 billion, down from the US$6.60 billion published by Forbes in their 2014 list of the richest people in Australia. In 2017 Forbes list of the 50 Richest Australians, Packer's net worth was assessed at US$3.9 billion, making him the ninth-richest Australian.
Australia's 40 Richest
|Rank||Net worth (A$)||Rank||Net worth (US$)|
|2006||1||$7.10 billion||1||$5.20 billion|
|2007||1||$7.25 billion||1||$5.50 billion|
|2008||3||$6.10 billion||3||$5.30 billion|
|2009||6||$3.00 billion||1||$3.10 billion|
|2010||6||$4.10 billion||3||$3.50 billion|
|2011||8||$4.16 billion||3||$4.40 billion|
|2012||6||$5.21 billion||4||$4.50 billion|
|2013||3||$6.00 billion||3||$6.00 billion|
|2014||3||$7.19 billion||3||$6.60 billion|
|2015||7||$6.08 billion||4||$4.70 billion|
|2016||7||$5.00 billion||6||$3.50 billion|
|Has not changed from the previous year|
|Has increased from the previous year|
|Has decreased from the previous year|
Packer owns residential property in Bondi Beach and in Bellevue Hill, in Sydney's eastern suburbs. The Packer family also have pastoral property holdings in Scone, called Ellerston Station.
Following the breakdown of his first marriage, and the development of a friendship with the actor Tom Cruise, Packer began attending the Church of Scientology in Australia, taking courses on the Church's Dundas business centre in 2002. He subsequently confirmed his involvement with Scientology, saying he had found it "helpful". He later distanced himself from the church.
Packer later married part-time model and singer Erica Baxter, whom he wed in the equivalent of a civil ceremony on 20 June 2007. The wedding was at the Antibes town hall, and the second ceremony took place at Hotel du Cap – Eden Roc in Cap d'Antibes on the French Riviera. Together, Packer and Baxter have three children: daughter Indigo, born 27 July 2008, son Jackson Lloyd, born 1 February 2010, and daughter Emmanuelle Sheelah, born 22 September 2012. In September 2013 James and Erica Packer announced they were separating.
Packer was involved in a public physical brawl at Bondi Beach in 2014 with David Gyngell, a long-term friend and head of Channel Nine. Gyngell and Packer were both fined $500 for offensive behaviour over the incident.
Packer and the American singer Mariah Carey became engaged in January 2016, but had broken up by October. At the time it was alleged that the break up was a result of Carey's extravagant spending and rows over the singer's reality show Mariah's World, but Packer later said that the relationship had just been a "mistake" for both sides. In November 2017, Packer paid Carey a multi-million dollar settlement, in response to a lawsuit pursued by Carey citing an “inconvenience fee”.
James Packer is the founder and engineer of both the Packer Family Foundation and Crown Resorts Foundation. In July 2014, the Foundations launched their $200 million National Philanthropic Fund which is one of Australia’s largest philanthropic commitments.
The two Foundations are working together to promote Indigenous education opportunities, the arts and culture, and partnerships with organisations that encourage and foster social cohesion. Underlying these priorities are learning, accessibility and engagement outcomes for young Australians – staying engaged with school and learning is the key to long-term positive outcomes, and this is the approach and message that the partner organisations are delivering.