Packer of Oz hits Hollywood

After years of scouting Hollywood for an entertainment partner, Oz media mogul Kerry Packer has bought into Arnon Milchan’s Regency Enterprises in a plan involving several yet unnamed joint media ventures, the Warner-based outfit said Wednesday.

While terms of the deal were unavailable, a prepared statement explained that Packer will “become a significant” Regency shareholder through his growing web, Nine Network Australia.

Packer, who will become a minority Regency participant, is set to “contribute significant additional capital” to the WB shingle, which is boosting its feature output from five to 15 titles by 1995.

In doing so, the busy Oz dealmaker is buying out the unspecified equity stake owned by Bodo Scriba, who will continue to distribute Regency product in Germany. The arrangement with Regency’s other output partner, Canal Plus, will also remain in place.

Media mogul

As one of Europe’s pivotal media entities, Scriba’s outfits include the TV trading company Capitol; license distribber Urania; and, significantly, Alcor Film & TV, which already shares in the profits from Regency’s overseas rollouts (Daily Variety, Jan. 12, 1993).

“I am thrilled that Kerry Packer, a major force in worldwide media, is joining Regency,” Milchan said in a statement. “Kerry’s enormous success with Nine Network and his involvement in a variety of media enterprises demonstrate his extensive expertise in the global entertainment and communications business.

“The addition of the Packer Group to our team … further enhances Regency’s already important position in the global marketplace.”

“Regency has shown great initiative in its production and distribution activities over the past few years … I am enthusiastic about becoming Arnon’s partner and sharing in what I am certain will be an exciting future,” Packer said in a statement.

The 57-year-old Packer, whose net worth is frequently pegged by Oz newsies as close to $ 1.7 billion, and who is one of the wealthiest individuals Down Under, has long been angling for a Hollywood outlet.

Packer talks

Only last year, a story appeared in the Australian Financial Review that Packer was talking to the French bank Credit Lyonnais about snapping up the then-ailing MGM/UA; it was refuted by CL.

Among Packer’s holdings are controlling interests in mag publisher Australian Consolidated Press Ltd.; Valassis Communications Inc.; and a recently acquired — and hotly debated — 15% stake in Oz newspaper group John Fairfax Holdings Ltd.

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