Australian media magnate Kerry Packer dies at 68


Kerry Packer, Australia's richest man whose fierce business reputation dominated corporate Australia and whose companies control one of the nation's major media groups, died in his sleep overnight.

Packer's Channel Nine television station in Sydney reported his wife Roslyn had issued a statement saying the 68-year-old billionaire died peacefully at home in his bed.

"Mrs Kerry Packer and her children James and Gretel sadly report the passing last evening of her husband and their father Kerry," said the statement issued yesterday.

"He died peacefully at home with his family at his bedside. He will be lovingly remembered and missed enormously."

The statement did not give a cause of death. Mr Packer, with an estimated wealth of A$6.9 billion (€4.2 billion), was 68.

He owned about 30 per cent of Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd, which operates Australia's Channel Nine television network, publishes a number of magazines and has interests in Australian casinos.

In 1990 Mr Packer suffered a heart attack while playing polo in Sydney and was clinically dead for eight minutes until emergency medical officers revived him by electric shock treatment.

"The good news is there's no devil. The bad news is there's no heaven. There's nothing," Mr Packer said after the incident.

Mr Packer's bulky physique helped make him one of Australia's most recognisable and feared public figures. But health problems have dogged him for many years, seeing him undergo heart surgery and a kidney transplant.

"He was a great Australian. He was a larger-than-life character. In so many ways he left his mark on the Australian community," prime minister John Howard told a news conference. - (Reuters)