James Packer (pictured), son of the late Kerry Packer, has increased his stake in Consolidated Media Holdings, part of the family's business empire, in an attempt to thwart a rival media owner. Kerry Stokes, chairman of Seven Network Ltd, more than tripled his shareholding from 5% to 18% in CMH last week. In response, Packer upped his stake from 39% to 41%.
Speculation persists that Stokes could be looking to launch a takeover bid of CMH. Australian analysts suggest Stokes is attempting to gain control of CMH's share in the pay-television network Foxtel. Stokes has previously attempted his own venture into subscription television but the unprofitable C7 was closed in 2002.
James' grandfather founded the business which his father turned into Publishing and Broadcasting Limited. In 2006 PBL created a subsidiary company for some of its media assets, PBL Media, and sold a 50% stake to private equity group CVC. In 2007 CVC bought a further 25% in PBL Media. PBL then split into two listed companies -- Crown, which held the family's gaming interests, and CMH, which held the media interests, including the 25% of Foxtel. CMH owned the 25% share in PBL Media until December 2008 when it was reduced to just 1%.
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