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James Packer quits Crown due to "mental health issues"

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UPDATED | Billionaire James Packer has quit the board of casinos operator Crown Resorts because he is suffering from mental health issues.

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Packer’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings, which is Crown’s largest shareholder, said in a statement today that Packer had resigned from the Crown board for personal reasons.

“Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues,” a CPH spokesperson said in a statement.

“At this time he intends to step back from all commitments.”

Packer will stand down from the board of Crown and as chairman of CPH.

It is understood that Packer’s resignation decision was sudden and made on his own after he realised he had been unwell for some time.

Packer, who is currently in the United States, intends to take a complete break from work commitments in order to regain his health.

Crown Resorts will remain in the control of trusted executive chairman John Alexander, who has overseen Crown’s improved performance since the company changed its focus following the detention of Crown employees in China in late 2016.

Alexander said in a brief statement that Crown appreciated Packer’s contribution to the board and respected his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time.

In an interview with The Australian newspaper in October, 2017, Packer acknowledged that he had always been shy and that he had never liked the enormous amount of publicity that he attracted.

“Most of it is negative. And you get gun-shy of getting hit,” Packer said in the interview.

Shares in Crown were 18 cents, or 1.4 per cent, lower at $12.89 at 1153 AEDT.

Lucas Review market strategist Evan Lucas said the impact of Packer’s departure may not have a large impact on Crown shares given he was departing Crown for health reasons.

“He was a big personality associated with the direction and the drive of Crown,” Lucas said.

The Packer-controlled CPH holds 47.2 per cent of Crown.

CPH entered into an agreement earlier in March to sell 8.24 million Crown shares, representing about 1.2 per cent of Crown’s issued share capital.

It is the second time Packer has resigned from the board after he stepped down as a director of Crown in December, 2015 to focus on development projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas, and Crown’s online platforms.

The casino mogul returned to the board in January last year, as part of one of several leadership changes at Crown, and following the company’s decision to exit Macau and focus on its Australian assets.

The moves followed the arrest of 18 Crown employees in China in 2016, as Chinese authorities were cracking down on gambling and the flow of money overseas.

– AAP

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