Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Packer-Murdoch-Milchan: A troubled triangle

The Packer and Murdoch families are the Hatfield and McCoy's of Australia's business world, and have been for many years. Arnon Milchan was the first person to bring the two family-businesses together when the billionaires, Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch, both invested in Mr. Milchan's New Regency film production company, which was established in 1991. The book Confidential describes how Mr. Milchan brought the antagonists together, on Pages 135-138... and Mr. Milchan prides himself on playing the peacemaker in that ongoing feud.

Kerry Packer passed away on December 26th of 2005. His son David Packer took over the family business, and eventually sold his 25% in New Regency in 2008. With Arnon Milchan's help, James Packer has recently reentered the Hollywood scene with a $450 million dollar investment in RatPac, a joint venture with Hollywood director Brett Ratner.

There is no word on Mr. Murdoch's attitude towards the growing business relationship between his New Regency partner, Mr. Milchan, and Mr. James Packer. But one strong indication might be a series of events that transpired only minutes after Mr. Packer returned to Australia from a business meeting with Mr. Milchan in Israel.

Upon disembarking from his flight from Israel, Mr. Packer headed to his home in the Bondi Beach neighborhood of Sydney. As he approached his home he was confronted by a longtime friend, Australian TV executive David Gyngell. Words were exchanged between the two, and within moments, a full blown brawl broke out. The two were eventually separated; no serious injuries were inflicted, short of bruised egos and Mr. Packer's black eye.

Boys will be boys.

The far more fascinating angle on this little event involves the role that Mr. Murdoch's media outlets in Australia have gleefully played in its aftermath. Murdoch's News Corporation was quick to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase video and photo's of the physical confrontation, and to plaster the images all over the world... not forgetting of course to mention that Mr. Packer was just returning from a meeting with Mr. Milchan... and Packer's new Hollywood investments. The relevance of the Hollywood/Milchan newspaper side-note in this story is not at all clear... other than to perhaps to send a message.

Videos of the brawl have since gone viral world wide, but not before Mrudoch's News Corporation plastered water marks all over them so that everyone will know that: 'this James Packer brawl is brought to you courtesy of Mr. Mrudoch." ... and oh yeah, he [Packer] just came back from a meeting with Mr. Milchan.

As the world turns.

Stay tuned.

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