James Douglas Packer (born 8 September, 1967 in Sydney, Australia) is an Australian businessman and currently Australia's third richest man.
Packer is the son of the late billionaire media mogul Kerry Packer and grandson of Frank Packer. James Packer is the Executive Chairman of Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), which owns some stations of the Australian commercial television network Nine. He also inherited the family company, Consolidated Press Holdings Limited, which controls investments in Crown Limited, Consolidated Media Holdings and other companies.
James was educated at Cranbrook School
. After obtaining the Higher School Certificate
(HSC) at Cranbrook, Kerry decided it was time to toughen his son up to prepare him for the world of business. James is of Greek
descent on his mothers side. He was sent to his father's extensive Newcastle Waters cattle station
in the Northern Territory
, where he worked as a jackeroo
. His father dismissed the idea of sending young James to university by saying "Why would he want to go there [to University]. To go learn to smoke marijuana?
Besides his father, his toughest mentor has been Albert J. Dunlap. Dunlap is known in American business circles for shedding massive numbers of company workforces to improve the finances of corporations; his tenure at Sunbeam is a specific example.
James Packer was a director of Australian Telecommunications company One.Tel, which was declared insolvent during May 2001
. The collapse of One.Tel cost PBL AU$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."
Since his father's death, James has moved away from the family's traditional media businesses, and focused on creating a worldwide gambling empire. The purchase of the Burswood Entertainment Complex
in Perth, Australia adds to PBL's gaming business. James now wishes to add further gaming assets in Macau
, in partnership with Lawrence Ho
. He is also teaming up with Damian Aspinall
, son of John Aspinall
, in creating a group of casino complexes in Great Britain called Aspers
. He already has a stake in casinos in London's West End, Swansea, and Newcastle. Unfortunately for Packer, his bid for a UK "supercasino" based in Cardiff fell through when only one licence was granted to the northern city of Manchester. PBL also owns 50% of the online gambling company Betfair
. Packer also owns Melbourne's Crown Casino, Australia's largest casino. Packer reportedly toyed with the idea of building a competing website to Wikipedia
, however when Jimmy Wales
was in Sydney in April, he scoffed at the idea.
James Packer was worth AUD$7.25 billion in 2007, however due to poor investment decisions and falling profits, a television report on Thursday 21st June 2007 revealed that Mr Packer has lost in excess of $1 billion over the last six months. As a result, the 2008 BRW Rich 200
listed Packer as the third richest person in Australia
with a personal wealth of AUD
$6.1 Billion, behind Fortescue Metals Group
chief executive Andrew Forrest
and Westfield Group
's Frank Lowy
. This is the first time in 21 years that the Packer Family has not topped the list.
He recently purchased a new Canadair Global Express for $40 million and spent a similar amount on the first ever Mangusta 167 motor cruiser. Whilst waiting on delivery of the Mangusta 167, he has been loaned a Mangusta 108.
Packer is married to model and singer Erica Baxter, whom he wed in the equivalent of a civil ceremony on June 20, 2007 after dating on and off for four years. 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 Rivera. Their first child, a girl named Indigo, was born at Mater Hospital on July 27th, 2008.
Packer's past girlfriends have included Tania Bryer and Joan Severance. After breaking off a two year engagement to Kate Fischer, in October 1999, he married swimsuit model Jodhi Meares with whom he separated in June 2002. He currently resides in the plush suburb of Bellevue Hill, in Sydney's eastern suburbs. He lives in the same estate (known as Packer Estate) that his late grandfather, Frank Packer, did. At the centre of this estate is the "Cairnton" mansion.
In 2002, Packer began attending the Church of Scientology in Australia
, taking courses on the Church's Dundas
business center. It was reported in the Australian media that Tom Cruise
had urged Packer to join Scientology and begin auditing sessions. The Sydney Morning Herald
said "the bond between the two men strengthened in the wake of the collapse of the telephone company One.Tel last year and his separation from wife Jodhi in June". During this time, Packer travelled extensively to the Scientology Celebrity Centre
in Los Angeles. It has been reported by the Australian Daily Telegraph
that Packer was an extra
in Cruise's film The Last Samurai
. According to The Sydney Morning Herald
, Packer is no longer taking courses and has distanced himself from the Church of Scientology.
- Paul Barry, Rich Kids, Bantam Books, 2002, ISBN 1-86325-338-6