Just what is Kerry Packer and his interests at PBL, page-5

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    Hi Cerhob,

    Back in Al’s days, the focus was largely on PBL and the television /publishing environment. This was before PayTV and FoxTel had really emerged. It was also after Sky Channel had reached critical mass, but was still controlled by Packer and Murdoch.

    Within the television environment, Dunlap’s legacy was one of dis-enfranchising /alienate much of the existing corporate /executive structure, leading ultimately to a loss of executive and on-air talent.

    The situation was worse, however, over in the magazine environment where the writing talent was shuffled around or exited altogether for minimal improvement /betterment of returns.

    Dunlap’s reputation was in cost cutting and in eliminating corporate rivals. As such, his vision caused PBL operational and strategic distress which resulted in PBL losing some of its strategic insight /business momentum during the mid-90s.

    The all-up consequence of all this was the following:
    a return of KP to the helm (from a “father figure” perspective); and
    an increase in diversification /consolidation efforts in an effort to secure critical mass within the core business environment (ie: in media and in television) and a recession proofing business structure (ie: in diversifying away from media to also embrace gaming, international operations, meat processing, farming, mining, technology, etc).

    To the extent that Dunlap left a lasting legacy, much of that legacy has now been subsumed by a different looking and focused organisation, the effect of which has been to position PBL publicly, and CPH privately for the opportunities of tomorrow.

    As for the role of James Packer in all this, JP is currently the Executive Chairman of PBL and of CPH. As such, his brief is to safeguard and assure the family money /investments.

    Going forward, however, it is unlikely that JP will function in anything like the executive, direct hands-on approach that his father has been renowned for over the years.

    This, then, is why the executive management structure has sought to de-couple ownership from management, and strategy.

    Within CPH, JP is Executive Chairman, whilst Ashok Jacob is CPH’s CEO. Jacob is well skilled with a strategic mindset to future business /commercial opportunities. I, therefore, suspect that the merger of CPH’s 2 meat processing businesses earlier this week owes much to the management foresight of Jacob.

    Over at PBL, JP is Executive Chairman, whilst Peter Yates is responsible for the day to day executive management of the business. Yates is cut in much the same mould as Jacob, except that Yates was brought in from Macquarie, whilst Jacob has risen rapidly through the ranks of PBL.

    Supporting Yates in this regard are dedicated business experts responsible variously for the television /broadcasting side of the business, the publishing side and the gaming side.

    The strength of these management relationships is borne out in the overall media expertise of John Alexander (who, as PBL Media CEO, is now operationally responsible for both the Nine Network and for the ACP operations.

    The strength of Alexander’s management team is backed up by the operational /management focus of both David Gyngell (as deputy CEO of the Nine Network), David Gardiner (Deputy CFO of the Nine Network), and Ian Johnstone (Executive Chairman of Nine, Melbourne, and Board Representative on the Boards of PBL and Crown.

    Elsewhere in the PBL matrix, we also have James MaLachlan whop is CEO of the Enterprises business, with responsibility and control for the PBL investments in FoxTel (25%), in Fox Sports (50%), in EasyCall Group (34%), Wizard Financial services (25%), New Regency Productions (21%), and in TMS (16% combined, between PBL and CPH).

    So, to answer your question more specifically, I doubt thatz there is a succession issue that we should be altogether concerned with.

    The new age PBL /CPH environment is very much one of surrounding JP with strong, assured and positive management talent who will be responsible for running, maintaining and expanding the business, whilst JP will take on more of the role of overseeing what is done.

    JP, therefore, will not be the same type of Executive Chairman as, for example, Kerry Stokes is at SEVEN.
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