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Big Losers Make PBL Big Winner

24 August 2000

AUSTRALIA –Aug. 24, 2000 – As reported by The Australian Financial Review: "Mr Kerry Packer's gamble on Melbourne's once-struggling Crown casino has delivered a jackpot for his Publishing and Broadcasting (PBL), which posted a bumper $324 million annual net profit buoyed by a sustained losing streak among Crown's high-rolling punters.

"Crown's operating profit jumped 50.3 per cent to $273 million in the year to June 30 as the casino pocketed $39.4 million from its high rollers' VIP Program. Only two years ago, Crown lost $350.2 million before Mr Packer swooped on Mr Lloyd Williams' company with a stock bid worth $555 million.

"…PBL's total sales almost doubled from $1.23 billion to $2.4 billion as the traditionally weaker second half contributed sales of $1.22 billion.

"…The company's second-half net profit of $163.5 million beat the $160.5 million achieved in the six months to December 31.

"…Analysts were last night reviewing profit expectations. The market's consensus forecast is for a net profit of about $315 million in 2000-01, although doubts about the sustainability of Crown's above-average returns this year and the advertising market next year are adding uncertainty.

"…In its first full year of inclusion in the PBL balance sheet, Crown contributed revenue of $1.03 billion and would have generated $987.9 million in sales had the theoretical high roller win rate been achieved rather than the above-average rate.

"Underlying earnings before EBITDA at Crown increased by 27.9 per cent to $233.6 million."

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