Hotels

Crown good for its host cities: Packer

Trevor Chappell - AAP

Crown Resorts is a “role model” Australian company and the most important thing to its majority shareholder billionaire James Packer, other than his family.

Packer says the cities in which the casinos and hotels group operates have benefited from its presence.

Packer, who sits on Crown’s board, says he is proud of the company’s record in terms of the way it has acted as a corporate citizen and what it gives to the cities in which it operates.

“I think the cities that we operate in are better because Crown is there,” Packer told shareholders at Crown’s annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Packer said Crown employs 15,000 people.

The company has been named employer of the year by the federal government in two of the last five years and is among the final three this year.

Crown also pays more tax as a percentage of its profits than any other company in the top 50 listed on the Australian share market.

Last financial year, the casinos and resorts operator paid more $640 million in tax in Australia.

Also, the company has spent well over a billion dollars in recent years on upgrading its properties in Melbourne and Perth and is poised to spend billions more on new six-star developments in Sydney and Melbourne.

“I think we’re a role model Australian company,” Packer said.

“Companies that pay tax matter, companies that employ people matter.”

But Packer wants to see greater returns on the billions of dollars going into his Australian casinos and hotels to help them compete with luxury Asian rivals.

The billionaire’s Crown Resorts has invested heavily in its Melbourne and Perth operations as big new luxury casino resorts in Asia strive to lure the region’s high rollers.

Crown is also planning a luxury hotel and VIP-only casino on the shores of Sydney Harbour and a new six-star hotel and apartment tower adjacent to its Melbourne casino.

About $1.4 billion has been spent on capital projects in Australia over the last four years, and another $3.5 billion is in the pipeline, Packer said.

“But the reality is that we have to get better at achieving acceptable returns on the capex that we spend in Australia,” he told Crown’s annual general meeting.

“In truth, capex that we’ve spent hasn’t delivered us the return that we’ve budgeted.”

Crown has historically generated good profit growth, though most of that has come from its interests in joint-venture casinos in Macau, Packer said.

“But with Macau now having a pullback, and the Australian business becoming a bigger percentage of our profit, the fact that we haven’t achieved the returns that we budgeted to achieve is something that we have to be very realistic about,” he said.

Image: Crown


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