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Billionaire Pack Helps with Gambling Empire

19 June 2006

AUSTRALIA -- As reported by the Australian: "James Packer is tapping an exclusive circle of second-generation and third-generation billionaires to build his international gambling empire.

"In Russia, he owes his major new gambling venture to his friendship with Shari Redstone, the daughter and corporate heir of US media billionaire Sumner Redstone.

"In Britain, he is seeking a licence to build that country's biggest casino with Damian Aspinall, the son of his father Kerry's friend John, and in Southeast Asia he is working on casinos with close ally Lawrence Ho, the heir of billionaire Stanley Ho.

"Mr Packer's entree to Russia's gambling industry came when Ms Redstone suggested him to Moscow property developer Emin Agalarov, who was seeking somebody to run what is planned to be Russia's largest casino.

"...The Agalarovs have quickly ridden Russia's booming economy to a fortune estimated by Forbes at $730 million by focusing on the conspicuous consumption of newly wealthy Russians, moving from the construction industry into upmarket apartments, luxury brand franchises and Crocus City, a huge luxury shopping mall and exhibition centre on the edge of Moscow.

"They plan to expand Crocus City by adding a 22-storey building containing more retail space, a 16-screen theatre complex, a hotel and a large casino on the basement level, with 15 office buildings and a yacht marina to follow..."

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