Packer to sell 25% stake in PBL

Move makes CVC a major media player in Oz

SYDNEY — James Packer is set to further distance himself from his father, Kerry’s, traditional media empire by selling an additional 25% stake in PBL Media to his partner Blighty’s CVC Capital.

PBL Media, which contains Packer’s media assets such as the Nine Network, was formed last October as a 50-50 joint venture with CVC in deal worth A$4.5 billion ($3.7 billion).

PBL said in a statement that “it is in discussions to sell a further 25% interest in PBL Media to funds advised by CVC Asia Pacific and CVC Capital Partners. The discussions are not concluded and no relevant agreements have been entered into.”

A further announcement is expected at the conclusion of the deal.

The move means that the Packer family will no longer control the Nine Network, the jewel in the crown of the family business while Kerry was alive. Though James’ timing seems to be on the money as the network — which has held the No. 1 ratings spot for two decades — is foundering in the face of stiff competition from Seven Network, controlled by Perth billionaire Kerry Stokes.

Bigger stake will also allow CVC to become a major player in the Aussie media industry, after it has been reported that the Blighty firm and Packer did not always agree over possible media takeover targets.

The talks follow last month’s freeing up of draconian media laws including the abolition of foreign ownership limits on local media and should free up additional capital for Packer to further expand his gaming interest.

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