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Packer profits soaring

PBL's entertainment assets profit rises 18%, revenues jump nearly 12%

SYDNEY — Buoyed by the first full-year results from last year’s acquisition of the once-troubled Crown Casino, as well as bumper advertising revenues from the top-rating Nine Network, Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. beat all forecasts to post an 86% hike in post-tax profit to A$324 million ($194.4 million) on doubled revenues of $1.4 billion for the year ended June 30.

Excluding the casino, PBL’s entertainment assets post-tax profit rose 18% to about $123.5 million, while revenues increased nearly 12% to $828 million. PBL said that despite the Olympics airing on Kerry Stokes’ competing Seven Network, the outlook for continued profit growth was good.

PBL, 36% owned by Packer, is now capitalized at $5.5 billion with strong gaming revenues and a war chest built up from asset sales. That means the company has plenty of money for digital conversion or further expansion should the government relax cross-media ownership rules that prevent Packer from achieving his long-held aim of acquiring the influential Fairfax newspaper publishing empire.

The profits more than compensated for PBL’s $21 million outlay for corporate membership in an exclusive Melbourne Golf Club and about $26 million in losses for its stakes in feevee operator Foxtel, telephony group One.Tel and Ecorp.

Losses at Ecorp, the separately listed Internet biz that is 80% owned by PBL and operates Oz’s most popular portal with Microsoft, rose 16% to $17 million, despite revenues increasing 911% to $39 million.

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