Now that his tight-fisted dad has moved on, it really is time for all
his old mates on the PBL board to agree to pay James Packer a decent
salary for his efforts as executive chairman. There isn’t another
owner-director of a major public company who does not receive a
salary or board fees, so why should the Packer kid continue to miss out?
After a decade on the board, Poor James is still to receive any salary
for his efforts, in stark contrast with other sons of founders like
the Murdoch and Lowy kids. Even his $80,000 whack from chairing Seek is
passed straight through to PBL, which might explain why he felt the
need to join the Qantas board and actually pocket the $100,000-plus a
Old man Packer was one out of the box in refusing any salary from PBL,
whilst his rival and friend Rupert Murdoch was pocketing up to $30
million a year from News Corp and Frank Lowy helped himself to more
than $13 million from Westfield.
Even billionaire Gerry Harvey was paid $855,578
by Harvey Norman last year and Kerry Stokes collected $124,856 for
being executive chairman of Seven in 2004-05, even though his 92
million shares are worth almost $800 million!
One option would be for James Packer to follow his father’s lead
non-executive. After all, he is currently the busiest director in the
country as he works full-time for PBL, is joint-CEO of the private
Consolidated Press Holdings, plus sits on the board of Qantas and
Challenger, whilst also chairing Seek.
Given that the family has about $3 billion worth of net wealth to
manage outside PBL, it would make sense for James to step back from the
executive hot seat at PBL, especially considering he has an able CEO in
John Alexander and new executives coming on board.
When assessing the Packer empire in the past, you needed to know
whether someone was a MOJ (mate of James) or a MOK (mate of Kerry). The
big question now is when some of the old MOKs will make way for a few more
MOJs on the PBL board. Old stagers like Laurie Muir and Robert Whyte
might be looking over their shoulders.
Kerry Packer is still listed on the PBL website
as executive deputy chairman so it might yet take a bit of time for any
other changes to come through. Besides, as executor of KP’s estate, old
MOK Lloyd Williams might have plenty of instructions to carry out from
the grave on matters such as who sits on the PBL board.