(Corrects name to James in first paragraph)
SYDNEY Aug 4 Australian gaming mogul James
Packer is taking another crack at the lucrative U.S. casino
market, with his Crown Resorts Ltd buying a vacant site
on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Crown has established a joint-venture resort company to
develop the site with former Wynn Las Vegas president Andrew
Pascal, with financial backing from U.S. private equity firm
Oaktree Capital Management.
"You can't be in the gaming industry and not have a special
reverence for Las Vegas - that's where it all began," Packer
said in a statement. "As we have built Crown Resorts into a
thriving international company with successful casino ventures
in Australia, Macau, and London, we've always kept our eye on
Packer scrapped plans to develop a $5 billion casino in Las
Vegas with private equity partner York Capital Management in
2008 as the global financial crisis crunched the credit market,
with Crown writing off A$44 million in the process.
Crown also lost money on investments in U.S. casino firms
Fontainebleau Resorts LLC and Cannery Resorts LLC
"While we fell short in past attempts to enter that market,
we now have the ideal opportunity," said Packer, the biggest
shareholder in Crown, which jointly owns Melco Crown
Crown has paid around $280 million for a controlling
interest in the 35-acre (14-hectare) vacant site. The company
said plans for the new development were still being finalised,
but it expected to break ground in the latter half of 2015 and
complete the project in 2018.
Packer is ranked Australia's third-richest person with a
fortune of $6 billion, according to Forbes. Last year, he cashed
out of his family's publishing and broadcasting assets for about
$1 billion to concentrate on his gambling business.
His plans for a gaming empire include projects in Japan and
(Reporting by Jane Wardell; Editing by Stephen Coates)