Packer’s Echo Entertainment Push

Australian casino magnate James Packer is pushing for control of casino-operator rival Echo Entertainment.

Packer is Echo’s largest stakeholder, with a 10 percent stake. Echo operates Sydney’s Star, Jupiters on the Gold Coast and Townsville and Treasury Casino in Brisbane.

Packer called for an extraordinary meeting July 20 for Echo chairman John Story to be ousted. Packer also wants Jeff Kennett, one-time premier of Victoria, appointed as a director.

Packer claims that under Story’s reign, Echo’s gross earnings fell 3.4 percent since 2004, and that Star’s reputation was tarnished by recent sexual harassment scandals.

Story retaliated that Packer wants control “without paying a premium to Echo shareholders.”

In talks with other major shareholders, including Perpetual, AMP and Ausbil Dexia, Echo’s executives are arguing growth will come from edging into the high-roller market that Packer’s Crown Casino dominates.

Packer’s gambling empire includes Burswood Entertainment Complex in Perth and joint ventures in Macau with tycoon Lawrence Ho and in Great Britain’s Aspers group with Damian Aspinall.