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Packer sells non-core assets to shore up family business holding

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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