James Packer Could Soon Be Australia's Richest Man*, But His Private Life 'Is A Disaster'

James PackerJames Packer. Photo: Bloomberg / File

James Packer looks on track to overtake Anthony Pratt as Australia’s richest man and while he admits his personal life is a “disaster”, he says he’s just trying to be a good dad following the breakdown of his second marriage last year.

The wealth of both Packer ($US6.6 billion) and Pratt ($US7 billion) remains dwarfed by mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who with an estimated $US17.7 billion fortune is the richest Australian on the annual Forbes Rich List, released overnight.

In a profile for the March 24 edition of Forbes, Mr Packer says “The last thing I think I am is perfect,” admitting he’s made plenty of mistakes and adding: “I’m trying to be the best father I can to my kids. I’m trying to do the best job I can running my business.”

The feature suggests he’s delivering on the latter, with his $600 million Macau casino investment, Melco, a joint venture with Lawrence Ho, now worth $8 billion. The pair have casinos in Manila and a third in Macau on the drawing board in the next 12 months, while back home, Crown resorts has seen its market cap jump $3 billion to $11 billion.

Meanwhile, he’s also having an impact on Hollywood, teaming up with director Brett Ratner to form RatPac Entertainment in December 2012. Their first film was the Oscar winner Gravity, and they have a $450 million deal with Warner Bros for more than 70 films over four years, as well as plans to expand through Asia, especially China, with television and publishing deals.

“I think ten years from now a bunch of studios will say, ‘Why didn’t we do more in China?’,” Packer tells Forbes.

They’re also financing Russell Crowe’s first film as director, The Water Diviner, currently in production in South Australia.

Then there’s $250 million for just under 10% in the US real estate website Zillow and of course his plans for a second Sydney casino at Barangaroo.

The 46-year-old tycoon says the lesson he learnt out of the billions lost on casino investments in 2008 as part of the GFC is “Don’t be too leveraged our balance sheet is now much more conservative”.

But the profile ends with Packer revealing that being rich doesn’t mean you can have it all: “Business is good right now, but now my personal life is a disaster,” he says.

You can read the full Forbes story here.

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