It is almost ten years since the death of Kerry Packer, the man who was so instrumental in creating both a media, sporting and polo legacy in Australia and on an international stage. In recent months there has been various news reports about the family, from the sale of his son James’s marital home near Sydney (work is now taking place on a new home he has commissioned in Tel Aviv), to changes within the family owned companies (James has stepped down from the role of Chairman of Crown Resorts and appears to be spending less time in Australia). History has also been made amongst the polo community in the last few weeks with a horse sale taking place, during which, stallions, mares, gelding and embryos were sold to the highest bidders in a public auction held at Ellerston – the visionary Australian based polo establishment created by the late Kerry, who is buried next to his Ellerston polo pitches.
Six years on from a deal to buy a quarter stake in Cannery Casinos Resorts, which had the potential to financially ruin the family, were it not for the intervention of Kerry’s daughter Gretel (who is now the Chair of the Packer Family Foundation, which works alongside the Crown Resorts Foundation and via a National Philanthropic Fund, over the next ten years will donate $200 million in charity), the family business – Consolidated Press Holdings – has risen in worth to over $5billion, with a diversity of interests, from leisure and media to beef production and cosmetics.
Now press reports appear to confirm that Kerry’s children – 48 year old James Packer and his sister Gretel – 49 years old, have secretly agreed to settle the ‘grey areas’ which remained in their father’s Will and finally his fortune will be divided between them. It is believed that James Packer (whose fortune is reported to be in the region of $6.1bn) has forwarded a series of cash payments totally hundreds of millions of dollars to his sister, who will receive over $1 billion when the deal is completed, alongside this she will retain a minor interest in the Packers’ private Consolidated Press Holdings Company.
Last year the siblings resolved to bring about a settlement, as in their father’s Will his daughter had little management control over his estate’s assets, leaving her unable to liquidate her interests if she chose too. Never having been a director of Crown Resorts or involved in Consolidated Press Holdings dealings this agreement has been put in place to protect Gretel’s stake in the companies (Consolidated Press Holdings control 50.1% of listed Crown – a stake worth $4.36 billion). The heir and heiress to the Packer fortune are understood to have been advised in their negotiations by financier Michael Triguboff, Will Vickers of Caledonia Investments and law firm Baker & McKenzie (Gretel) and UBS Australian Chief Executive Matthew Grounds with legal advice from Minter Ellison (James). Other advisors in the complex negotiations included David Gonski, an executor on the Will of the late Kerry Packer, Lloyd Williams who was the owner of Crown in the 1990’s and Rob Rankin, the now Chief Executive of Consolidated Press Holdings.