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Arnold M. Knightly

Crown boss selling assets

22 January 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- James Packer, the high-profile casino investor scheduled to appear before Nevada casino regulators today, is selling tens of millions of dollars in assets after seeing his personal wealth halved last year.

The 41-year-old Australian billionaire is entertaining offers for his $50 million yacht and $38 million London apartment. He is also delaying delivery of a $60 million private jet and completion of a $3.7 million pool complex at his private residence north of Sydney, news outlets in Australia report.

Packer is also completing the sale of his family's Australian cattle ranches for nearly $425 million to a British private equity firm.

The moves are an attempt to satisfy cash demands of Packer's growing casino operations, The Australian, the country's national newspaper, reports.

The sell-offs come as Melbourne, Australia-based Crown Ltd. executives are scheduled to appear today before the Nevada Gaming Commission for final approval of the casino company's $1.8 billion buyout of the Cannery Casino Resorts.

Crown Chief Executive Officer Rowen Craigie told the Gaming Control Board on Jan. 7 that the company has enough cash on hand to pay for the Cannery acquisition.

The control board recommended approval of Crown's bid to purchase the locals casino company, which owns three casinos in Clark County and a fourth in Pennsylvania.

Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander declined to comment, citing the pending hearing.

Crown, of which Packer is chairman and holds a 38 percent stake, owns and operates properties in Melbourne and Perth, Australia; the United Kingdom; British Columbia; Alberta; and Macau.

Crown shares dropped by more than 55 percent last year on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Crown boss selling assets is republished from