James Packer, the Australian media and casino owner, has resigned from the board of Challenger Financial Services Group following the sale of his 20% stake in the company on Friday.
Packer (pictured) raised AUD$400 million in the sale that is his third asset sale in a month. The move fuelled speculation he is building up funds in order to ward off any potential takeover bids for his family business Consolidated Media Holdings (CMH).
Friday's sale followed a request on Thursday by a subsidiary of Seven Group Limited, controlled by rival media mogul Kerry Stokes, for a copy of CMH's register of members and relevant interests. Seven Group increased its holdings in CMH in July from just 5% to 18%, igniting rumours that it was set to launch a takeover bid. Packer reacted by increasing his controlling stake in the company to 41%. (Click here to read our coverage of the story).
August saw Packer, through CMH, sell his stake in the website SEEK Ltd for $440 million and dispose of CMH's headquarters in Sydney for $50 million. In a financial announcement, released at the end of August, CMH stated it plans to use some of the proceeds from these two asset sales to buy-back up to 10% of CMH's publicly traded shares.
James' grandfather founded the family business, which his father turned into Publishing and Broadcasting Limited. After a complex series of sales and acquisitions between 2006 and 2008, Packer is left with a controlling stake in CMH and Crown Casinos, among other smaller asset holdings. CMH has seen revenues fall from $10 million in July 2008 to $6 million in 2009.
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