Kerry Packer Biography

Kerry Packer Biography

(Full credit to ABC Online

Profile - Kerry Packer

Kerry Packer is the richest man in Australia.

His personal wealth is estimated in the billions of dollars.

It's the media industry that has made Kerry Packer both wealthy and powerful.

He's the owner of the Channel Nine television network and has interests in Pay TV.

He also owns 60% of all magazines sold in Australia including Belle, She, Wheels, HQ, Bulletin, Woman's Day and the Womens' Weekly.

It was the Women's Weekly which really started the Packer media empire.

Set up by Kerry's father, Sir Frank Packer in 1933, the magazine was hugely successful and it allowed Sir Frank to expand his business beginning with newspapers like Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

By most accounts Sir Frank was a hard worker and a hard father.

Kerry and his brother Clyde saw little of him and when they did it was often to get a taste of Sir Frank's strict discipline.

In a rare interview on radio in 1979 Kerry talked about his upbringing.

"I mean I got a lot of hidings because that's the sort of person I was and the sort of person he was."

Kerry's young life was lonely and disrupted.

He was sent to boarding school at the age of five, and just a year later caught a serious illness called polio myelitis or infantile paralysis.

Today children are immunised against the virus, but in the 1940s severe cases could kill or leave a child crippled.

Young Kerry's case was severe and he spent nine months immobilised in an iron lung, an early version of a respirator, which helped him to breathe.

By the time he got back to boarding school, at the age of nine, he was way behind his class mates.

Luckily his recovery from polio had been complete because it was his size and strength that helped him achieve in one area , sport.

"My life was sport. I was academically stupid. My method of surviving through school and those sorts of things was sport."

Kerry finished school when he was 19 and went to work for his father's newspapers. He took over the business when Sir Frank died in 1974.

However difficult their relationship, Kerry admired his father and from the start he was a lot like him.

Kerry liked to win for one thing.

In 1977, when he couldn't get exclusive television rights to Sheffield and Test cricket he made up his own teams with the best players in the world and started World Series Cricket.

If the Australian Cricket Board wanted the services of these players it would have to give Kerry the TV rights and, in 1979, after a long battle, he got his way.

Another business trait of Kerry Packer's is timing - knowing when to sell and when to buy.

In 1987, he sold his two Channel Nine TV stations to businessman Alan Bond for one billion dollars.

It was a lot more than they were worth and the deal made Kerry Packer his first billion.

Three years later, Bond was in financial trouble and Kerry bought the stations back for just two hundred and fifty million dollars.

But things haven't always gone Kerry Packer's way.

In 1991, he attempted to increase his media empire by buying the Fairfax newspaper group.

But many members of parliament thought Kerry already had too much control over the media, and wanted to limit what he could own. Kerry wasn't happy and his anger gave us a rare public glimpse of his personal determination.

"I'm telling you there is no arrangement. No agreement. I am not going to run John Fairfax."

Today Kerry Packer leaves most of the running of his business to others.

His greatest love is polo and he spends three months of every year in England playing the game and millions of dollars on horses, stables and players for his own team.

In 1990, a heart attack while playing polo left him literally dead for six minutes until he was revived by ambulance officers.

But once again his return to form has been spectacular.

He's back enjoying his hobbies and the size and drama of his continuing successes guarantee that watching Kerry Packer will remain a fascinating Australian past-time.
Full credit to ABC Online

*public thank you for PBL staff from Media Man Australia for their support over the years.


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