January 10, 2017 / 12:15 AM / a year ago

Billionaire Packer returns to Crown Resorts' board

SYDNEY, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Crown Resorts Ltd on Tuesday said its biggest shareholder, Australian billionaire James Packer, will return to the casino company’s board less than a month after it announced its near-total exit from global gaming hubs Las Vegas and Macau.

Packer’s return comes just over a year after he left the board ahead of a mooted strategy to take the company private, and as part of a major executive reshuffle as the firm scales back its global expansion plans.

“There was the privatisation plan ... that was all about a global growth play and it seems like that is completely out of the picture now,” said Mathan Somasundaram, a strategist with stockbroker Baillieu Holst.

Robert Rankin would step down as chairman to be replaced by long-time Packer lieutenant John Alexander on Feb. 1, the company said in a statement. Rankin would remain on the board.

In a surprise trading update on Dec. 15, the company scrapped plans to build a casino in Nevada, said it would sell half its stake in Macau-focused Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and cancelled plans to spin off its international assets. ($1 = 1.3585 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Tom Westbrook; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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