Packer signs off with a smile

Billionaire James Packer’s long association with media assets is almost over, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) removed the last obstacle to the sale of  Cons Media, of which he holds 50%.

The ACCC opposed Seven Group getting hold of 50% of Fox Sports and that paves the way for News Corporation (ASX: NWS) to complete its takeover of Consolidated Media Holdings (ASX: CMJ), in which Packer holds 50%. Following the ACCC’s decision, Seven Group Holdings (ASX: SVW) has now said that it will vote its 25% holding in favour of News Corp’s offer at the shareholders meeting at the end of this month.

Cons Media, as it is more commonly known holds 25% of Foxtel and 50% of Fox Sports. Once the deal has been completed, News Corp will own 50% of Foxtel (with Telstra owning the other half), and 100% of Fox Sports.

For James Packer, this finalises his serious involvement in media assets, as he focuses his attention on gaming and casinos, through his majority shareholding in Crown Limited (ASX: CWN). He still owns 9% in Ten Network Holdings (ASX: TEN), but he is no longer a board member and not involved in the management of the company.

What he will do with the estimated $1 billion he will receive from the sale of his share of Cons Media is unknown. Over the past three years, Mr Packer has gradually been increasing his stake in Crown, and now owns 48.1% of the company. Its more than likely that he will increase his shareholding, to take his shareholding over 50%.

Mr Packer has told the Australian Financial Review that the Australian media industry can be a complicated beast, and he was pleased to be leaving at a time when he was lucky enough to enjoy strong relationships with many of the high profile personalities within the industry, including Kerry Stokes (Seven), Lachlan Murdoch (Ten), Kim Williams (News Corp) and David Gyngell (Nine).

He added that he was looking forward to focusing on gaming, and building the best hotel Perth has ever seen, and hopefully, the best hotel Sydney has ever seen.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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