Packer sells stakes in SEEK, Magellan Financial to pay down debt

Billionaire James Packer has reportedly made the unexpected move of selling down his stakes in jobs classifieds site SEEK and fund manager Magellan Financial Group – with the two sales netting him a cool $150 million.

Packer resigned as SEEK’s chairman in 2009 – at that time his business Consolidated Media Holdings sold down a stake worth $440 million. However, he began personally buying more shares during the next few years.

The sale also represents a split after a long relationship between Packer and investment group Magellan. Both sales reportedly raised $260 million, with a return worth $150 million.

The sales were made through Cavalane Investments, a subsidiary of Consolidated Media Holdings. The company was contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but no reply was available prior to publication.

However, Packer has told The Australian the proceeds from the sale will be used to pay down CMH debt.

“I respect both companies and their CEOs, Andrew Bassat and Hamish Douglas, immensely and I am selling to reduce debt in CPH,” he said. Packer still retains stakes in SEEK’s offshore groups in China and Brazil.

The sale comes despite SEEK posting a solid result this week, with full-year profit up 8% to $141 million. Both SEEK and Magellan have performed well this year, with shares up 39% and 110% this year, respectively.

Packer has a long relationship with SEEK. Back in 2003, the Packer family purchased 25% of the company for $33 million. When the business listed, Packer’s stake was worth $150 million, with that investment multiplying several times over through the next six years.


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