Australian billionaire James Packer quit the board of Crown Resorts, further fueling speculation he plans to take the casino and resort company private or buy some of its assets. Packer left the board today after stepping down as chairman in August.
Bloomberg says Packer, who controls 53 percent of Crown Resorts, has talked with private equity investors and pension funds about bidding with him for Crown Resorts assets. Crown Resorts has operations or projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Australia, and Las Vegas. It also owns a third of Melco Crown, which owns casinos in Macau and operates one in Manila.
Macau operations have been hit by the Chinese government's crackdown on corruption, which has slowed the flow of customers from China.
Packer didn't comment on the deal speculation, but said he is focused on Australia and 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," Packer said in a statement announcing his departure from the board, as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald. "I remain incredibly passionate about Crown and its world-class integrated resort business. Crown is my biggest professional priority and represents the vast majority of my net wealth."
Packer's absence could be temporary.
"This is not an ending, but a phase and an internal transition," said Rob Rankin, who took over the chairmanship from Packer and is CEO of Packer's private holding company, as reported by the Herald. "James will continue to have a very active involvement in Crown 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 Board at some time in the future."