James Packer is different from the other billionaires we have covered so far in this series of articles. You see, Packer was born rich – immensely, irrevocably, loaded, in fact. He makes our list not for the sake of the proverbial silver spoon that he came into the world clutching. He makes our list because, even with enough money to retire the day he was born, James Packer still went to work, pursuing his version of success every step of the way. In doing so, he has made his own billions.
Packer is a household name in Australia. Every would-be entrepreneur wants to catch his investing-savvy in a bottle and take it with them. The average Aussie can scarcely turn on the television without meeting with one of Packer’s media outlets.
Even worldwide audiences have recently seen something connected to Packer (whether they know it or not.) Packer’s indie film company, RatPac (formed between him and filmmaker Brett Ratner), brought the chilling space thriller, Gravity, to the big screen last year. Of course, Packer is hailed as a visionary for his early-2000s investments in China – helping propel that country to its status as an emerging, flourishing economy.
The man is everywhere. Packer ever-increasingly has a hand in everything, on a global scale. Sure, he had a helping hand from the outset (and a stroke of luck here and there along the way), but he is one of the most dynamic, intriguing, and formidable entrepreneurs on the planet.
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the business proposals that helped make James Packer the billionaire that he is today.
Business Proposal #1: The billion-dollar birthright
James Packer is a Sydney-sider who is the grandson of Sir Frank Packer, KBE (that means he was a knight).Sir Frank pulled himself up from a low-level journalist to become one of Australia’s most notable media moguls of his time (he died in 1974).
Sir Frank founded Australia’s Nine Network and had the controlling stake in Australian Consolidated Press magazine publishing company. James’ father, Kerry Packer, inherited the family fortune – then valued at $100 million – upon Sir Frank’s death.
Kerry Packer was a tough mentor, and reportedly a bit rough around the edges altogether. When James finished high school, rather than sending him to university, the elder Packer sent the boy to work as a low-level trainee on a cattle ranch, purportedly to prepare him for the world of business.
Business Proposal #2: Rising from (dotcom) ashes
In the wake of the burst of the dotcoms in 2000 and 2001, Packer issued one of his most remarkable business proposals.
Realizing that his newspapers had suffered at the hands of online classified services (particularly, ads for cars and jobs), Packer invested in an online job-seeker classifieds site, SEEK, and an autos-for-sale site, CarSales. Packer recognized that the hit his papers had taken directly related to the gains that online classifieds sites had seen, even amid the dotcom burst. That was a smart move, to say the least.
In a smoothly executed business proposal of epic proportions, in 2003, Packer (reluctantly, as he was fond of the company) sold his stake in SEEK for $440 million. He had originally invested a comparatively meager $33 million.
Business Proposal #3: Casino Royalty
Another area of business where Packer has been successful is the gambling industry. This, too, he inherited from his father. Unlike Kerry Packer, though, James is not a wanton gambler, plunking down millions of his own money in casinos with reckless abandon, as the elder Packer infamously did.
Instead, James bets it all on the house. In fact, he owns the house. Packer diversified beyond the media industry in 2004, investing in Melco Crown, a leisure company that owns luxury resort/casinos in Australia and Macau, with one outpost in London, called Crown Aspinalls. From his original investment in the gambling industry in 2004 of $600, Packer now owns a $6.8 billion dollar stake. What’s more, Melco Crown has just reported it plans its first issuance of dividends.
Business Proposal #4: Selling the family farm… err, TV station
Beginning in 2006, Packer began to sell off his stake in Channel Nine. Despite the fact that his family had operated it for years, by 2012, Packer had sold his last stakes in a deal valued at $4.5 billion.
Afterwards, Packer commented that that business proposal had been easier than one might think to take, saying, “I thought the Internet was going to make it much tougher for those businesses – that one was probably the right call” in an interview with CNBC UK’s Helia Ebrahimi after the sale.
Business Proposal #5: Ever mindful of growth in China
James Packer’s most famous, and most lucrative investments, have been in China.
According to Packer himself, he has more money tied up in various business interests in China than his native Australia.
Packer recently told the Sydney Morning Herald, “I don’t pretend to be an economist, but China’s growth rate is still the envy of most of the world. Half a billion people have moved from poverty to the middle class.”
Melco Crown’s casino holdings in Macau – China’s only legal gambling region – are worth around $125 million a year to Packer’s stake-holding Crown Resorts Group.
Business Proposal #6: The most interesting man in the world?
James Packer appears to be in direct competition with the man from the Dos Equis ads and Richard Branson for the title of “Most Interesting Man in the World” (or at least Australia.)
One thing is certain: Packer has a knack for taking money and using it to make money through business proposals of the highest sort. He is an expert in investing big money in big businesses, and growing his returns.
And that is the name of the serial entrepreneurial game!
Do you have what it takes to be a serial entrepreneur like James Packer? Are you dealing out business proposals like a croupier deals cards? Are you holding the winning hand?
Photo: Yahoo News, SMH