The Australian media are widely reporting the departure from the Crown Resorts board of directors Wednesday of Australian billlionaire and 47 percent shareholder James Packer (50) due to ‘mental illness issues'.
The Reuters news agency notes that the resignation follows a tumultuous period including a break-up with singer Mariah Carey and the failure of Crown’s Asian expansion strategy.
“Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues. At this time he intends to step back from all commitments,” a Packer spokesman said in a statement. The company gave no details on Packer’s health issues.
Packer stepped down from the board in 2015 when he was romantically involved with Carey, but he re-joined the board following the corporate crisis which followed the arrest of company staff in China for breaches of gambling marketing laws in the country (see previous InfoPowa reports).
The arrests prompted the Melbourne-based, A$8.9 billion firm to reverse a decade-old global expansion into the Asian gambling hub Macau and Las Vegas, to focus on Australia, with Packer declaring the company’s global strategy a failure.
There have been other pressures on the billionaire; this February, he was named by police as a witness in a bribery investigation against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Reuters recalls an interview late last year with an Australian newspaper in which Packer observed that the past four or five years had been tough.
“I’ve got China falling apart, the Australian casino businesses missing budgets by big amounts, I’ve got Mariah breaking up with me… “ he said.
Packer created the Crown gambling group by selling the media empire he inherited to private equity firms a decade ago and buying casino interests from Vegas to Macau.
Analysts say his departure is a negative development for Crown, citing Packer's significant contribution to strategy over the years, but noting that the group has a strong board and executive management team.