Businessman James Packer, who this week hit number 208 on the 2014 Forbes Billionaires list, did a candid interview with the US-based publication, revealing that while his business life was thriving, his personal life was far from perfect.
Packer’s business successes are well documented. Among them are the sale of pay-TV company Consolidated Media Holdings to Newscorp for around $1 billion, and his thriving casino Crown Ltd.
However, insights into his personal side are rarer. Here are three take-outs from his conversation.
1. Life might look flash, but it’s not perfect
Packer may have been linked to supermodel Miranda Kerr, be friends with Tom Cruise, be photographed on yachts, and have around $6.5 billion to his name. But he confesses he has a lot to work on personally.
“I had a marriage breakdown last year,” he told Forbes. “The last thing I think I am is perfect. I’m just trying to do the best job I can. I’m trying to be the best father I can to my kids. I’m trying to do the best job I can running my business.”
He revealed that he had made a “bunch of mistakes in my life”.
“I’ve had my ups and downs.
“Business is good right now, but now my personal life is a disaster.”
2. He learned from his dad in an unexpected way
Packer inherited around $5 billion from his father Kerry, but that was largely tied up in media empires.
However James had an inkling for casinos, derived from watching his dad as a kid.
“As a kid I saw that Dad lost a lot of money in casinos, and I didn’t understand that,” he told Forbes.
“I thought this must be a great business. At the same time, I saw when I was with him – and I was with him a lot of the time – that this was a really cool business, and it was fun and glamorous.
“As I got older I realised that he knew what he was doing. He was prepared to spend some of the money that he made to make himself feel better by giving himself an adrenaline rush … Some of the happiest times I ever saw my dad was times when I was with him in the casinos and he had a good night.”
3. He almost blew it
Forbes reports that Packer invested large sums into casinos in Las Vegas, Pennsylvania and Canada, just before the global financial crisis.
“I lost a bunch of money in America because of the financial crisis,” he said.
It is estimated his losses were as high as $2.6 billion, which is nearly half of his fortune.
He declined to tell Forbes if he was worried he had hit financial rock bottom. However he did advise he had learned from it.
“Don’t be too leveraged – our balance sheet is now much more conservative than it was in 2008.”
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