James Packer has quit the board of casinos operator Crown Resorts because he is suffering from mental health issues.
The billionaire’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings, which is Crown’s largest shareholder, said in a statement on Wednesday that Mr Packer had resigned from the Crown board for personal reasons.
“Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues,” a CPH spokesperson said in a statement. “At this time he intends to step back from all commitments.”
Mr Packer will stand down from the board of Crown and as chairman of CPH.
It is understood that Mr Packer’s resignation decision was sudden and made on his own after Mr Packer realised he has been unwell for some time.
Mr Packer, who is currently in the United States, intends to take a complete break from work commitments in order to regain his health.
Crown Resorts will remain in the control of trusted executive chairman John Alexander, who has overseen Crown’s improved performance since the company changed its focus following the detention of Crown employees in China in late 2016.
Mr Alexander said in a brief statement that Crown appreciated Mr Packer’s contribution to the board and respected his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time.
In an interview with The Australian newspaper in October, 2017, Mr Packer, 50, acknowledged that he had always been shy and that he had never liked the enormous amount of publicity that he attracted.
“Most of it is negative. And you get gun-shy of getting hit,” Mr Packer said in the interview.
Shares in Crown were 18 cents, or 1.4 per cent, lower at $12.89 at 1153
Lucas Review market strategist Evan Lucas said the impact of Mr Packer’s departure may not have a large impact on Crown shares given Mr Packer was departing Crown for health reasons.
“He was a big personality associated with the direction and the drive of Crown,” Mr Lucas said.
Crown executive chairman John Alexander said in a statement: “We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time.”
The Packer-controlled CPH is Crown’s largest shareholder, with a stake that stood at 47.2 per cent at the end of last month.
CPH entered into an agreement earlier in March to sell 8.24 million Crown shares, representing about 1.2 per cent of Crown’s issued share capital.
Earlier this month, Mr Packer sold more than $100 million worth of his shares in Crown.
After that sale, his remaining stake was valued at more than $4 billion.
It is the second time Mr Packer has resigned from the board after he stepped down as a director of Crown in December, 2015 to focus on development projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas, and Crown’s online platforms.
The casino mogul returned to the board in January last year, as part of one of several leadership changes at Crown, and following the company’s decision to exit Macau and focus on its Australian assets.
The moves followed the arrest of 18 Crown employees in China in 2016, as Chinese authorities were cracking down on gambling and the flow of money overseas.
Mr Packer officially rejoined the company’s board of directors in August last year after standing down in December 2015 to focus on development projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Las Vegas, and Crown’s online platforms.
The casino mogul returned to the board in January last year, as part of one of several leadership changes at Crown, and following the company’s decision to reduce its exposure to Macau and focus on its Australian assets.
For a man who likes to avoid the spotlight the past five years have seen him embroiled in several high profile media events.
He split from wife Erica in 2013 and in May 2014 was captured by photographers brawling in the street with close friend then-Nine Entertainment chief executive David Gyngell
In The Australian Mr Packer said that his nine-month engagement to US entertainer Mariah Carey which ended in October 2016 been “a mistake”.
He claimed not to be in a good place when he started dating Carey and had been in personal debt after borrowing to provide sister Gretel with money due from father Kerry Packer’s estate.
Mr Packer has also been embroiled in the corruption allegations swirling around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is accused of accepting gifts from businessmen.
In December last year he voluntarily met with Australian Federal Police to be interviewed as a witness in that matter. There are no allegations of wrongdoing by Mr Packer.
-with AAP, ABC