Sydney is the focus for James Packer’s Crown Resorts

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Crown sale could lead to asset break up

New chairman and billionaire John Alexander has returned to the board of Crown Resorts and James Packer has announced his key focus will be the companies $2 billion Sydney project.

This comes as renewed concerns are raised about corporate governance at the listed company. It was also announced on Tuesday that Mr Packer was returning to its board and that the 48 per cent shareholder had also put two of his most trusted long-serving executives in key roles.

Mr Alexander will be moving up from deputy executive chairman to the chair, replacing former investment banker Rob Rankin, who remains on Crown’s board.

Mr Packer told The Daily Telegraph that Crown’s $2bn Sydney project will be a central focus of Crown under the Sydney-based Mr Alexander.

“John Alexander … understands the need to deliver a world-class hotel/resort for tourists and locals alike, while ensuring Crown Sydney is a rewarding project for shareholders and the company,” he said.

“My commitment is that Crown Sydney won’t be just another hotel, it will be a landmark building for Sydney with a design and quality that the city deserves.”

Mr Rankin will also be replaced as chief executive of Mr Packer’s private company Consolidated Press Holdings by Mr Packer’s long-time legal adviser, Guy ­Jalland.

According to Mr Packer, the focus of Crown this year would be managing the situation in China, where criminal charges are being pursued against Crown ­employees after 18 people were detained in October, including Jason O’Connor, vice-president of international VIP operations. Gambling is illegal in mainland China.

Crown said it would reduce its stake in Macau-focused Melco Crown in the aftermath of the detentions. It also pulled out of a ­casino project in Las Vegas and scrapped plans to demerge its Australian and offshore assets.

The Chinese arrests and softer mass-market revenue had hurt the VIP segment and shares had dropped to $11.62 yesterday.

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