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Australia's Crown profit up but high-roller revenue falls
[SYDNEY] Australian mogul James Packer's Crown Resorts reported a sharply higher second-half net profit on Thursday after scaling down a Macau joint venture which offset weaker turnover from high rollers.
The casino operator, which has been hit by softening demand in Macau following a Chinese corruption crackdown, also announced its chief executive of 10 years Rowen Craigie was stepping down.
Crown posted net profit of A$359 million (S$390.4 million) for the six months to December 31, up 75 per cent on the corresponding period in 2015.
In December the company agreed to the sale of a 13.4 per cent stake in Melco Crown Entertainment for US$1.6 billion to joint-venture partner Melco International.
The sell-off in the Macau venture reduced its holdings to 14 per cent, with the gaming operator also shelving plans for a Las Vegas casino.
That helped boost profits after the firm reported a 45 per cent drop to US$19.6 million in turnover from high rollers visiting Australia.
Excluding significant items, net profit fell 9.1 per cent to US$191.3 million.
The management shake-up announced by chairman John Alexander came as 18 Crown staff members remain detained in China, where gambling is illegal.
The group, including three Australians, was picked up in October on suspicion of arranging junkets overseas for wealthy Chinese gamblers.
"This new structure will ensure that for the near term, there is a major focus on the performance of Crown's key Australian operations," said Mr Alexander, who will take over Mr Craigie's responsibilities.
Billionaire Packer owns 53 per cent of Crown but resigned as chairman in 2015.