Kerry Packer - Australia's Richest Media Baron

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Case Details:

Case Code : LDEN037
Case Length : 15 Pages
Period : 1974-2005
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : Publishing and Broadcasting Limited
Industry : Media
Countries : Australia

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"He was a great Australian, he was a larger than life character and in so many ways he left his mark on the Australian community over a very long career in business. Of all the impressions that he left with me, none was greater or more indelible than his passionate commitment to the interests of Australia and the interests of the Australian people."1

- John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia.

"You were dealing with an animal force, a quite strong persona. He could be quite charming and he could also be a total bully…you never knew what was coming next, whether it as going to be a pat on the back or a backhander."2

- Michael Pascoe, Former journalist at Channel Nine,
owned by Kerry Packer.

"The so-called 'Packer revolution' in the 1970s has left a lasting legacy in the way the game is played. One-day international cricket is now an international phenomena as a result of Kerry Packer."3

- Creagh O'Connor, Chairman Cricket Australia on
Kerry Packer's influence on Cricket.


It was the end of an era. On December 26, 2005, media baron Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer (Packer), Australia's richest person and the man who changed the face of television broadcasting and cricket, passed away. According to Forbes4 ratings, Packer was the 94th richest person in the world and the richest man in Australia with an approximate wealth of AUS$5 7 billion in 2005 (Refer to Table I for the five richest persons in Australia). He had a 30% stake in Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL), a leading global media company which owned television channels, including Channel Nine, Australia's most successful channel, and several news papers, magazines, and offered financial services. PBL's other businesses included gaming, ski resorts, and diamond exploration (Refer Exhibit I for PBL's business).

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It was Packer's knack for timing deals that had made him the richest man in Australia. He was a man of many facets, some of them seemingly contradictory. He was known as a famous punter who spent millions of dollars in casinos and at the races. At the same time, he was said to have donated huge amounts to charity. Employees knew Packer as a hard taskmaster and a forceful person. He was shrewd in political lobbying and his support was much sought after by politicians. Critics, however, alleged that he did not pay taxes and was a man who valued only money.

However, Packer will be most remembered for his contribution to sport, especially to cricket. He introduced the World Series Cricket (WSC) in 1977, brought in a lot of technology and introduced the commercial element into the game. Rupert Murdoch, founder of News Corporation6 and Packer's staunch business rival, described him as a tough competitor, controversial, generous, and one of the most successful businessmen of his generation. He said, "As a broadcaster, he had an uncanny knack of knowing what people across the country were thinking and this finely-tuned antennae made him the best broadcaster the country has seen. Australia will not be the same without him."7 

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1]  "Packer a Great Australian: Howard,", December 27, 2005.

2]  Pip Bulbeck, "Nine Network Media Chief Packer Dies,", December 27, 2005.

3]  "Cricket World Pays Tribute to Kerry Packer,", December 26, 2005.

4]  Founded in 1917, Forbes is a New York based bi-weekly business and financial magazine. Other magazines from the group include Forbes FYI, Forbes Asia and editions in seven other languages. Forbes publications are famous for giving the best companies and top people every year. Some of them are the 400 Best Big Companies, Forbes International 500, Forbes 500, Forbes Midas, World's Richest People, and 100 Most Powerful Women in the World.

5]  As of February 07, 2005, 1 US Dollar = 1.3398 Australian Dollar.

6]  Founded in 1980, News Corporation has operations in six business segments – filmed entertainment, television, cable network programming, direct broadcast satellite television, newspapers, magazines and inserts, book publishing and others. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2005, the company's total revenues were US$ 23.8 billion and net income was US$ 2.1 billion.

7]  Michael Perry, "Media Mogul Kerry Packer Dead,", December 27, 2005.


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