Packer debt free on Crown stake

February 2, 2010

Dear Mayne Reporters,

Here is a very brief brief breaking news update after the Crown AGM in Melbourne:

1. James Packer has no debt or margin loans on his 38% stake in Crown which is today worth almost $2 billion. This means he is just like Rupert Murdoch and Frank Lowy in being debt free on their controlling stakes.

2. James claims Crown has the strongest balance sheet of any casino group in the world but declined to say it would pursue "diamonds in the rubble" with rivals such as Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands teetering.

3. The record protest votes against directors continued today with John Alexander attracting 126 million of 25% of the proxies against his re-election. The $15 million payout to JA last year clearly irked some shareholders and James explained it by referencing negative media coverage surrounding PBL Media. If you strip out the 160 million votes held by James from the 386 million in favour, the protest is pushing 40%, which I duly told the meeting was a top 10 protest for ASX 100 companies.

4. The biggest round of applause for the day came after my eulogy of James for continuing to donate his services for free. David Lowy was sitting on stage as I told James it was great fun asking Rupert and Frank Lowy to follow his lead.

Gotta fly but there'll be more later.

Do ya best, Stephen Mayne

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