James Packer’s Sri Lanka casino plans in doubt
Nine Entertainment chairman David Haslingden has stood by his chief executive David Gyngell following a violent public brawl with his friend, billionaire James Packer.
‘‘David Gyngell has had and continues to have the full support of the board in his role as CEO of Nine Entertainment Company,’’ said Mr Haslingden in a prepared statement.
Mr Gyngell issued a statement Monday morning saying: ‘‘We have been friends for 35 years and still are. In that time we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We respect each other and neither of us will be commenting further,’’ he said.
The fallout for Mr Packer and his casino operation, Crown Resorts, could be more costly.
Plans to build a casino resort in Sri Lanka were in the balance when James Packer flew home over the weekend. That may no longer be the case after his violent brawl with former best mate and Nine chief executive David Gyngell.
According to local reports, Mr Packer was in Sri Lanka last week in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the $400 million casino resort.
“As stated by Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa in Parliament on April 24, the government will not allow casinos to operate in the country,” Faizer Mustapha, Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion told a media conference on Friday.
No one is taking this as the final decision just yet.
Commentary from government officials this year had suggested that the three projects would be able to transplant the casino licences of local partners into the luxury resorts.
It is not known yet if Mr Packer faces any local fallout from the brawl as head of Crown which has casino licences in Perth, Melbourne and has passed probity for building a casino resort in Sydney.
Comment is being sought from the NSW and Victorian gaming regulators.
Nine chairman David Haslingden said in an email to Fairfax Media today: “David Gyngell has had and continues to have the full support of the board in his role as CEO of Nine Entertainment Company.”
Mr Gyngell and Mr Packer issued a joint statement on Monday morning, saying: “We have been friends for 35 years and still are. In that time we have had our fair share of ups and downs. We respect each other and neither of us will be commenting further.”
The implications for Crown in Sri Lanka are particularly sensitive.
Buddhist leaders opposed the casinos saying it would be detrimental to Sri Lanka’s culture, and there were also worries gambling would encourage prostitution and harm Buddhist culture.
(Source: Canberra Times)
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