Australia's richest man, Kerry Packer, dies at 68
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Australia's wealthiest man, media mogul Kerry Packer, has died, his family said Tuesday. He was 68. Packer -- ranked as the world's 94th wealthiest person by Forbes magazine, with a $5 billion fortune -- died Monday at h...
SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- Australia's wealthiest man, media mogul Kerry Packer, has died, his family said Tuesday. He was 68.
Packer -- ranked as the world's 94th wealthiest person by Forbes magazine, with a $5 billion fortune -- died Monday at his Sydney home, according to the statement released through his Nine Network television.
"He died peacefully at home with his family at his bedside," the statement said. No cause of death was given but Packer had long been plagued by ill health, battling cancer and receiving a kidney transplant.
Though he amassed his fortune through his family's Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd., which he inherited from his father, Packer was widely known for his love of gambling and sports.
He reinvented limited-overs cricket to make it more appealing to a mass television audience. On Tuesday, the Australian and South African cricket teams held a minute's silence in memory of Packer in the southern city of Melbourne.
Packer was also enjoyed gambling and owned Melbourne's Crown Casino complex, Australia's largest.
When his father died in 1974, Packer inherited two television stations, five radio stations, nine provincial newspapers and the biggest magazine publishing company in the country.
By the late 1980s, Packer had acquired another magazine business, bought and sold the nation's largest engineering company and expanded programming at Nine Network.
Packer also invested in real estate, becoming one of Australia's largest landowners and cattle barons by the late 1980s. His Australian properties were said to cover an area bigger than Belgium.
Rupert Murdoch, who heads the News Corp. media empire, praised his rival as "a lifelong friend and a tough competitor. He was the most successful businessman of our generation.
Prime Minister John Howard also applauded him as a great Australian. He was "a larger-than-life character, and in so many ways he left his mark on the Australian community over a very long career in business."
Packer was undoubtedly a powerful businessman, courted by prime ministers and credited with using his media empire to make or break governments. He was not partisan. According to former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, Packer "preferred winners to losers."
A giant of a man who was said to live on hamburgers and milkshakes, Packer was nonetheless a keen sports fan and in the 1980s began devoting his time and money to polo.
Kerry Packer is survived by his wife of 42 years, Roslyn, his son James and daughter Gretel.