James Packer signs up Chinese tennis ace Li Na to lure big-spending tourists to Crown casinos


James Packer signs up Chinese tennis ace Li Na to lure big-spending tourists to Crown casinos - 8th October 2013
(The Daily Telegraph)

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Tennis star Li Na of China

JAMES Packer is banking on the appeal of Chinese tennis star Li Na to lure Asian tourists to his expanding suite of multi-billion-dollar casino resorts.

The Crown Resorts chairman signed the two-time Australian Open finalist to an expanded two-year sponsorship deal in Beijing last night.

The deal comes as Mr Packer prepares to open a new $1 billion casino in Manila next year and the $2.4 billion Studio City property in Macau in 2015.

Na, who became the first Asian to win a tennis major at the 2011 French Open, is one of China's most popular sports stars and has worked with Crown as an "ambassador" over the past two years.

"Li Na represents everything that Crown stands for - a commitment to excellence and to be the very best in our fields,'' Mr Packer said. "She is a wonderful tennis player, but more importantly, she is an extremely honourable and charming person."

Na said she was "very happy'' to sign a new deal as Crown was a "respected global luxury brand and its hotels and employees are second to none".

Mr Packer is in the middle of a major investment program, with more than $2.7 billion expected to be spent between 2009 and 2016, which includes a $568 million expansion of Perth's Burswood property.

Beyond that, Crown is expected to announce plans to build a $US350 million ($371 million) 400-room luxury hotel and casino in Sri Lanka to be opened in 2017, with its pinnacle $1.5 billion Barangaroo casino resort due to be completed by 2019.

Business in Macau, where Crown operates casinos through its Melco partnership with Hong Kong entrepreneur Lawrence Ho, is strong, with gaming revenues growing 21 per cent last month compared to the previous year.

Crown's share price has jumped 37 per cent in the past four months to $15.75.

The Li Na sponsorship also promotes tennis in Australia and China through Crown

Resorts' support of Tennis Australia's Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off and the Chinese Ballkid Exchange Program.