James Packer’s Divided Gaming Loyalty
By Marianne Lambert
James Packer, Australia’s richest man, has perhaps signalled a move away from media and into gaming with the announcement that his company, Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd (PBL) is to be split into two separate entities. This is expected to return $2bn to shareholders, who will receive one share in each new company and $3 per original share – but may elect to change these proportions.

The separately listed companies will then better represent their assets, but leave the struggling core media sections vulnerable to a potential buyout. Crown, the new gaming company, will focus on casinos in Australia, including PBL's 41.4 percent stake in Melco PBL Entertainment Ltd, along with new acquisitions in the US and Canada and a joint venture with Hong Kong’s Lawrence Ho, which plans to build casinos in Macau.

Mr Packer said, “It is now time to let these two successful businesses prosper in their own right.”

The news was met with approval, causing shares to jump, finally settling at $21.99, an increase of 6.08 percent. The new media company, Consolidated Media Holdings (CMH) will contain PBL’s 50 percent stake in PBL Media – home to Nine Network, ACP Magazines and Internet portal ninemsn.com.au.

Shareholders will vote on implementation in August.

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