James Packer grabs stake in marketing and communications group Photon

Media and gaming mogul James Packer has made a foray back into the world of direct equity investment, with reports that he has purchased a stake in media, marketing and communications company Photon Group.

According to a report in the Australian Financial Review, Packer has been buying shares in the company for a number of weeks and has now amassed a 4.5% stake.

Photon is a one of the largest marketing services companies in the world and owns 50 individual companies in Australia and overseas.

The company was founded by media industry veterans Tim Hughes and Reg Grundy; Grundy retains a stake of 23.8% in the business.

Packer is apparently keen to keep his shareholding low-key and will keep his stake below the 5% level at which he needs to formally announce his presence on Photon’s share registry as a substantial shareholder.

The investment in Photon reverses a recent trend of Packer selling out his direct equity investment. Last year he sold his personal stakes in Challenger Financial Services and property group Sunland.

It appears two things have led Packer to dive into Photon.

The first is the recent appointment of the company’s new chief executive Jeremy Philips, who formerly worked at eCorp, a company owned by the Packer family’s former media holding company, Publishing & Broadcasting Limited.

Phillips, who most recently worked as senior vice president at News Corp, was appointed in May after the departure of previous chief Matthew Bailey.

The second thing that makes Photon attractive it its share price, which has fallen from just below $4 to just 95c in the last two years.

If Phillips can restore Photon to anywhere near its former glory, Packer will have got in at a very cheap price.

Photon’s share rose 2.2% in early trade to 95.5c.

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