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Panpa Bulletin : February 2006
Known for being the rich- est man in Australia, Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer was also one of the most powerful through his interests in the Aus- tralian media. He died of kidney failure aged 68 years on December 26 at home in Sydney, Australia. Mr. Packer, through PBL, owned Channel Nine television network, had interests in Pay TV and con- trolled more than 90 magazines throughout Australasia via Aus- tralian Consolidated Press. The Packer media empire was started by his grandfather, Robert Packer, in the 1920s and then his son, Sir Frank Packer, continued to grow their holdings with the Women's Weekly, Sydney's Daily Telegraph and 15 suburban newspapers in Sydney, including the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader (a joint venture with Fairfax) and the Parramatta Mail. Kerry Packer took charge when Sir Frank died in 1974. Fairfax chief executive officer David Kirk said: "Kerry Packer had our highest respect and admira- tion for his many achievements. "PBL's television programming and magazines set the standard for the media industry. The company will continue to be a powerhouse in the future, and we at Fairfax look ahead with them to the next gen- eration of growth and success in our industry," Mr. Kirk said. Besides media, Packer interests included petrochemicals, engi- neering, Perisher Blue ski resort, diamond exploration, coalmines, property and casinos. In 2004 Business Review Weekly esti- mated Mr. Packer's net worth at $6.5 billion. His hobby was polo, which he was playing when he had a heart attack in 1990 and was revived by ambulance officers. When Mr. Packer finished school in 1956 he worked for his father's newspapers unloading newsprint and stacking newspa- pers and developing the skills that would make him a powerbroker. In 1987, he sold his two Channel Nine TV stations to Alan Bond for $1 billion and bought them back three years later for $250 mil- lion. He is also known for starting World Series Cricket in 1977. In 1991, Kerry Packer attempt- ed to increase his media empire by buying the Fairfax newspaper group but was stymied by Austral- ia's cross media ownership laws. That same year he faced an Aus- tralian government inquiry over allegations he controlled the con- tent of Fairfax papers. Kerry Packer is survived by his wife, Roslyn, their children, Gretel and James, and two grand- children, Chessie, 10, and Ben, seven, from Gretel's first marriage. At the time of his death, Gretel and her partner Shane Murray were expecting their first child to- gether. A private funeral service was held at the Packer property, El- lerston, on December 30 and a memorial state service was held at the Sydney Opera House on Friday, February 17, and televised live. 54 | PANPA BULLETIN February 2006 PEOPLE Farewell Kerry Packer Johanna Baker -- Dowdell found many newspaper people happy to pay tribute to Kerry Packer -- whose first job was unloading newsprint and stacking newspapers. October 27, 2005. Sydney, NSW. PBL annual general meeting at the Sheraton on the Park. Kerry Packer leaves the shareholder meeting. Newspix: Brett Faulkner