It's often said that the first generation builds the business, the second makes it a success, and the third wrecks it.

But this doesn't look like the way that James Packer is going.

Last week the billionaire casino owner announced a plan to split his Crown Resorts company into three separate companies in a deal that is expected to unlock between A$4.5 billion ($4.72 billion) and A$5.5 billion in value for shareholders, not least Packer himself.

The move has put 48-year-old Packer back on the financial pages and off the gossip pages, which have been eagerly chronicling his upcoming wedding to US diva Mariah Carey.


Packer's grandfather Frank started the family on their path to wealth, founding the hugely profitable Australian Women's Weekly, buying newspapers and launching one of Australia's first commercial television stations.

His son Kerry increased the family's wealth with astute investments and shrewd deals, and his son James has shown he is no less able.

After his father's death, James got a huge price when he sold the television stations and the magazine stable that made the family fortune - a move of considerable foresight given how much media businesses are struggling now.

Packer spent the windfall building a gambling empire, with properties in Australia and around the world.

The problem for Packer was that he had invested in a casino in Macau and this was dragging down the share price of the entire company.

Packer's Crown was hoping to tap into the growing prosperity of the Chinese and their love of gambling. But rules aimed at curbing corruption in the gambling city have also curbed gambling revenues, which have fallen for two consecutive years.

The result was that Australian investors have been unable to see past the poor performance of the Macau casino's and focus on the better performance of Crown's casinos in Melbourne and Perth and the potential of the casino it is building in Sydney.

In the last two years, Crown's share price has fallen by about a quarter. In the same periods, shares in The Star Entertainment Group - which operates Sydney's Star City - has doubled and New Zealand's Sky City Entertainment is up close to 20 per cent.


Crown's domestic casinos are valued on a multiple of just eight times its operating earnings (Ebitda) compared with The Star at 9.5 and SkyCity at 10.5.

To overcome the problem, Packer is splitting the company into an Australian company, a foreign company and most likely a property company.

Already it has said the Australian company will pay higher dividends - likely A70c a share instead of A52c, for an increase in total payout of AS$70 million to A$270 million. It's a nice earner for Packer, who owns 53 per cent of the company and is already worth about A$5 billion.

His wealth increased by more than A$500m on Thursday after Crown shares jumped by about 13 per cent as investors reacted positively to the deal.

There are hopes the Packer plan will ultimately "unlock" somewhere around A$5 billion in extra value.

It's a strange state of affairs when shuffling the holding companies of a few different assets can create so much wealth. After all, nothing has been created and nothing's really changed.


But despite the investment community being full of highly intelligent and highly educated analysts, traders, fund managers and so on, they don't always act logically.

Packer is shrewdly taking advantage of this.

Apartment boom coming to an end

All over Australia, property developers have been snapping up any land they can get their hands on and squeezing as many apartments as possible on to it.

Graphic artists are busy mocking up these yet-to-be-built residences, showing desirable urban lifestyles, with attractive, fashionably-dressed people enjoying their cafes and sunny public gardens.

The one thing they all have in common is there are too many of them - and yet more are being built.

Australia is heading towards a massive oversupply of apartments. The number of multi-storey apartments under construction has tripled since 2010, even more so for high-rise apartments.


About 45,000 apartments are due for completion across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane and building approvals figures suggest around 53,000 will be finished next year.

At the same time as we are building more apartments, the drivers of housing demand are falling away. Net migration has halved over the past eight years and investor demand has dropped as banks have tightened their lending criteria.

There might be enough demand to sustain the new apartments in Sydney, but Melbourne and Brisbane are already looking oversupplied.

Developers are already paying huge commissions to sales people to offload their surplus stock - up to 10 per cent in some cases.

Things can only get worse as more apartments come on to the market.

We can expect to see a lot of developers go under and a lot of buyers left paying for apartments that are worth a lot less than they bought them for.