Will Australia's gaming industry prosper after James Packer's resignation from Crown?
As James Packer turns his focus toward developing resorts overseas, Australia’s third most wealthy person recently resigned from his post as chairman of Crown Resorts Ltd.
Packer will still be a director of the Melbourne-based company and will continue to hold a majority stake. He’ll also remain co-chairman of the Alon Resort project in U.S. city Las Vegas and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., which owns Macau, China-based City of Dreams and Studio City resorts.
“Crown remains my number one business priority and passion,” said Packer in a statement. “I am extremely proud of the company and look forward to continuing our efforts to build a global luxury brand.”
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With a net worth of $4.6 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Packer will now invest his energy into a casino in Las Vegas as well as a an upscale hotel and casino as part of the Barangaroo development on Sydney Harbour, with a target opening set for 2019.
It’s safe to say that Packer is stepping down during a challenging period for Crown. The company saw its shares fall as much as 6.4 per cent in intraday trading, which is the most since 2011. Its net income after adjusting for one-time items and an unusual rate of winnings was $526 million in the 12-month period that ended on June 30, which is a drop of 18 per cent from the previous year.
One of Australia’s leading luxury resorts, Crown shares closed with a fall of 3.2 per cent at $13.09, while rival Echo Entertainment Group Ltd., increased 3.4 per cent to close at a record-high $5.15.
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The company’s earnings have been hit hard by a slowdown in gambling revenue growth in the world’s largest gambling destination Macau after the Beijing government recently cracked down on lavish spending and corruption.
While Crown still has positive vibes about its Macau business in the long term, Australia has began attracting a large amount of wealthy Chinese gamblers who are fleeing from Macau. Crown’s main floor gaming revenue has risen by 6.9 per cent at its Melbourne casino.
New chairman Robert Rankin now looks to turn around Crown’s recent slide, as he was formerly CEO of Packer’s family company Consolidated Press Holdings Ltd., as well as a Deutsche Bank AG banker.
He has plenty of support behind him, especially from Packer himself.
“Rob Rankin has my complete trust and respect as an executive and he will do an outstanding job as chairman,” said Packer in a statement. “Crown has a pipeline of resorts globally and this is where the majority of my time will be spent.”
In addition, the Aussie billionaire reached a deal with Crown to sell a 50 per cent stake in his property north of Sydney in Ellerston, according to the company. Crown will pay $60 million for the stake in the luxury resort, which includes several swimming pools, a golf course, a movie theater and other attractions.
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.