Turn in your grave, Kerry. Less than a year after the death of his father, James Packer has not only dispelled any idea that he’s not up to the job of running Australia’s biggest media/entertainment conglomerate – he has already created the new idea that he will transform his father’s corporate legacy into something much, much bigger. When Kerry died James grieved, then he swiftly and confidently assumed control of the family empire. He transformed the PBL board, culling his father’s older retainers and replacing them with smart business operators like Geoff Dixon, Chris Corrigan and former UBS chairman Chris Mackay. He moved in on the Nine Network to cut costs. Then, in October, he completed one of the deals of his lifetime by selling PBL’s old media assets at the top of the market into a new private equity-funded entity that returned billions of dollars to PBL to spend on expanding its fast-growing international gaming business while retaining operating control of the media assets. When Kerry Packer died PBL’s share price was hovering around $16.50, today it is over $22. For all those reasons, James Douglas Packer — whose official title is executive chairman but in reality runs the joint — is Crikey’s CEO (and chairman) of the Year.

Honourable mentions:

Chip Goodyear, for successfully presiding over Australia’s biggest company in Australia’s biggest boom in history.

David Leckie, who runs PBL’s direct media competitor Seven Network, who has been the one to turn the heat on the Nine Network and, in the process, transform the economics of his own company.

Geoff Dixon, for selling Qantas and delivering shareholders a price they would almost certainly never have achieved if the company stayed public.

2005 winner: CSL’s Brian McNamee.

Peter Fray

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